December 27, 2019
LANSING – As the year draws to a close, Attorney General Dana Nessel shared an update on the clergy abuse investigation her office took over from former Attorney General Bill Schuette.
“Our office has made considerable progress in this investigation,” Nessel said. “I am extremely proud of the work we have completed so far and am confident our office will continue to investigate these cases as thoroughly as possible to provide justice for victims. We fully expect several more charges will be announced— some as early as January.”
Since the beginning of the investigation, more than 640 tips have been received. Based on the paper document review of only three dioceses to date – Marquette, Gaylord and Grand Rapids – the clergy abuse investigation team has already identified 552 victims who have named 270 priests as abusers. The Attorney General is estimating that at the close of the investigation there will be thousands of victims. The department has hired a victim advocate specifically to assist those who have been impacted by clergy abuse.
At this time, there are 130 cases being investigated or reviewed for potential charges. Of those cases, around 50 cases have been closed based on the Statute of Limitations or the deaths of the priests involved; 45 cases are actively being investigated; 25 cases have been referred back to the Diocese for other action. So far, seven cases have been charged to date with more to follow after the first of the year. Of these seven cases, two priests— Patrick Casey and Brian Stanley— have already pleaded guilty.
Additionally, 43 law enforcement officers and officials dedicated 664 hours to training in sexual assault investigations to provide comprehensive assistance to victims in the future.
The Department of the Attorney General seized 1.5 million paper documents and 3.5 million electronic documents through search warrants executed in October 2018. Thirty-two volunteers have since dedicated 1,400 hours – solely on nights and weekends – to evaluate this evidence. To aid with the review of this evidence, $345,000 has been spent on managing the electronic documents.
The status of the seven priests charged to date in the investigation is as follows: