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11 charged as clergy abuse investigation hits 2-year mark

Search warrants were executed as part of the state’s investigation into clergy abuse.
In total, 53 priests with ties to the Richmond Archdiocese were involved in abuse of minors....
In total, 53 priests with ties to the Richmond Archdiocese were involved in abuse of minors. Six served in our region.(WDBJ7 photo)
Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 12:00 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Millions of documents were reviewed leading to the prosecution or expected prosecution of 11 men by Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office. Two years have passed since authorities executed search warrants on all seven of Michigan’s Catholic dioceses as part of the state’s investigation into clergy abuse.

On Oct. 3, 2018, 42 Michigan State Police troopers, five officers from different law enforcement agencies and 15 special agents from the Attorney General’s office executed search warrants on at Michigan’s seven dioceses.

In that undertaking, 220 boxes of paper documents and more than 3.5 million digital documents were seized by authorities.

Due to COVID-19 slowing down court proceedings, no charged cases have been resolved through plea deals or trial since late 2019. The review of documents has continued along with other steps to further the investigation.

As of Sept. 28, the Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Investigative Team reviewed more than 2.24 million of the digital documents seized.

According to the Attorney General’s office, the department currently has:

  • Completed the paper document review of the Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Marquette dioceses. Of the 220 boxes of paper documents seized, about 78 boxes remain;
  • Completed the electronic document review of the Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Marquette dioceses;
  • Hired and trained a full-time victim advocate to support the hundreds of victims identified in the course of the investigation;
  • Continued to refer the completed criminal investigations back to the respective dioceses; and
  • Followed up with victims who have not been interviewed with a trauma-informed interviewer – including those whose cases are barred by the Statute of Limitations, where the accused priest has died or any other reason that makes criminal prosecution impossible.

By reviewing paper documents alone, 454 accused priests and 811 reported victims have been identified. That number may change as the investigation continues.

The investigation has resulted in 11 being prosecuted so far:

  • Vincent DeLorenzo - 80, a priest at Holy Redeemer Church in Burton
  • Jacob Vellian - 84, a priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Benton Harbor
  • Timothy Crowley - 69, a priest at St. Thomas Rectory in Ann Arbor
  • Gary Jacobs - 74, a priest at parishes in Ewen and Iron Mountain in the Upper Peninsula
  • Roy Joseph - 52, a priest in Marquette
  • Neil Kalina - 63, a priest at St. Kiernan Catholic Church in Shelby Township
  • Joseph “Jack” Baker - 58, a pastor at St. Mary Parish in Wayne and an associate pastor at Sacred Heart in Dearborn and at St. Hugo of the Hills Parish in Bloomfield Hills
  • Joseph Comperchio - 66, a teacher at St. John Elementary in Jackson County
  • Gary Berthiaume - 78, a former priest at Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington
  • Patrick Casey - 55, a priest at St. Theodore of Canterbury Parish in Westland
  • Brian Stanley - 57, a priest at St. Margaret’s Church in Coldwater

Nessel addressed the progress her office has made in a YouTube video.

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