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Recently charged priests were reported to authorities years prior

Some clergy abuse survivors are one step closer to justice thanks to the Michigan Department of Attorney General’s 2019 decision to charge six priests with misconduct. These serious allegations, many of which involve the abuse of children and teens.

A new report, however, reveals authorities were made aware of questionable actions by some of these priests years ago.

Michigan authorities were told of some behavior

This new report comes from The Detroit News, which obtained and reviewed previously unknown government documents related to the clergy abuse charges.

The newspaper found that five of the priests charged with sexual misconduct in 2019 had been reported to police or prosecutors years ago. For example, since 2002, either the Diocese of Lansing or an alleged abuse survivor reported sexual misconduct by Rev. Vincent DeLorenzo to prosecutors at least seven times.

DeLorenzo wasn’t charged until 2019, and now faces six felony counts of criminal sexual conduct.

The Detroit News found similar stories with four other priests charged this year: Neil Kalina, Jacob Vellian, Brian Stanley and Timothy Crowley. All had been removed from the ministry before being criminally charged.

Why prosecutors did not file charges

The Detroit News also looked at why charges were not filed earlier. It found a few main reasons:

  1. The statute of limitations had run out
  2. The survivor did not want to file a police report
  3. They expressed concerns about having enough evidence

In order to bring charges against some of these priests, the attorney general utilized a provision in state law that puts a pause on the statute of limitations, based on certain factors. Survivors do not have to depend only on criminal charges in order to find closure and seek justice. In some circumstances they may be able to hold perpetrators accountable through a personal injury lawsuit.

The criminal cases involving three of the above-mentioned priests – DeLorenzo, Kalina and Stanley – continue. A judge dismissed charges against Timothy Crawley over statute of limitations concerns, but the attorney general is appealing. Vellian, meanwhile, is believed to be in India.

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