Lansing Diocese deems sexual abuse allegations against late bishop “credible”

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– On Friday the Diocese of Lansing released a statement that upon further investigation, sexual abuse allegations against late Bishop James Sullivan were “Credible.”

According to the diocese, the investigation into Sullivan was launched after the Michigan Attorney General’s office notified them of abuse allegations in July of 2020. During the initial investigation with a private investigator, a second allegation against Sullivan emerged. 

Following the investigation, results were sent to a review board within the diocese who deemed them to be truthful.

Both victims were boys who were subject to sexual grooming and inappropriate contact by Sullivan. The first victim was approximately 12-years-old in 1964 at the time of the abuse. The second was approximately 11 to 12-years-old in 1966 when Sullivan inappropriately touched him.

The diocese says all incidents occurred at the Church of the Resurrection Parish in Lansing where Bishop Sullivan resided at the time. 

“Following investigation and review, the Diocese of Lansing has found two allegations against the late Bishop James Sullivan to be credible,” said David Kerr, spokesman for the Diocese of Lansing.  “Bishop Sullivan’s actions were gravely immoral, deeply scandalous and betrayed both the trust of the Catholic community within the Diocese of Lansing and, more significantly, the faith placed in him by the victims and their families to whom we say: ‘This should not have happened to you and we are profoundly sorry that it ever did.” 

Bishop Sullivan was Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Lansing from 1972 to 1985 before becoming Bishop of Fargo in North Dakota from 1985 to 2002. Both accusations stem from the mid-1960s when then-Father Sullivan was living in residence at a parish in Lansing.

According to officials with the diocese, in September 2019, a list with the names of 17 priests was published who have been subject to a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor since the establishment of the diocese in 1937. All priests credibly accused are now dead or no longer in active ministry. The alleged victims include 66 boys, four girls, and three whose sex was unreported.

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