LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Members of mid-Michigan’s Daniel Coalition are speaking out in response to updates on the state’s clergy abuse investigation.
It’s one of three investigations Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel talked about today during her press conference.
Nessel says her office has been making some progress, but she says there’s hundreds of thousands of pages of documents they have yet to review, and there could ultimately be more than one thousand victims.
This is why she predicts the investigation might last two years.
The Daniel Coalition, a group working to support clergy abuse survivors, says it’s glad the Attorney General’s office is taking this issue into its own hands, being that some survivors of sexual abuse within the church might not be comfortable addressing their abuse with the church itself.
That being said, the Daniel Coalition wants survivors to know in addition to the AG’s office, it’s providing a place for support as well.
“We want to work with them to make sure they get the kind of counseling services that they need,” said Jason Negri, the executive director of the Daniel Coalition.
“We’re strongly urging victims, or anyone who knows of a victim, to contact the state’s certified law enforcement investigators,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
As Attorney General Nessel addresses the issue of sexual abuse within the catholic church, Negri says it’s a good thing an outside agency is now taking charge.
“Everybody wants to be their own jury, but we all know how that works, so it’s a good thing and we think the civil authority stepping in, taking this investigation in-house is offering a lot of support and encouragement to victims,” said Negri.
Today Nessel urged the Catholic Church to “stop self-policing” and leave the investigation up to her office.
“It’s important we be able to talk to any and all victims harmed by these egregious acts, without the intervention of the church,” said Nessel.
The Catholic Diocese of Lansing responded to the Attorney General’s comments today in a statement, saying in part:
“The diocese welcomes this review of our handling of abuse cases. We are confident in our processes. We know of no one active in ministry in our diocese who has abused a child.”
Negri wants people to know this situation does not represent what the church stands for; he just wants accountability where it’s due.
“We are not out to destroy the church; we are all faithful Catholics. We love the church; we want to work with the bishop and the diocese to make sure that these bad priests are rooted out, and that the policies and procedures that are necessary to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again are put in place for the protection of everybody,” said Negri.
Attorney General Nessel also mentioned today that there are similarities between the abuse within the Catholic Church and Michigan State University’s handling of the Larry Nassar scandal.
She says the two institutions are more concerned about protecting their individual brands, rather than doing what’s right.