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AG Nessel Releases Report of Alleged Abuse at Marquette Catholic Diocese

LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today announced the release of a report by the Department of Attorney General concerning allegations of abuse that took place in the Marquette Catholic Diocese. A video providing an overview of the report is included.

The report was released in the interest of the public and to acknowledge the reports of alleged abuse from victims.  The document is a compilation of the information obtained from the Department of Attorney General tip line, victim interviews, police investigations, open-source media, paper documents seized from the Diocese, and electronic documents found on the Diocesan computers, as well as reports of allegations disclosed by the Diocese.

The list of priests for which there were allegations of sexual misconduct against either children or adults since January 1, 1950, is derived from information gleaned from a search warrant that was executed against the Diocese of Marquette on October 3, 2018.  There are 44 priests on this list; 38 were employed or incardinated by the Marquette Diocese.

“The Department of Attorney General is committed to ensuring that every case of sexual abuse and assault is thoroughly reviewed and that whenever we are able to pursue justice we do so relentlessly and aggressively,” said Nessel.  “I specifically want to thank the survivors who have shared their stories, sometimes after decades of silence. Their willingness to come forward helped bring attention to an issue that has affected so many in our state and our country, including children.”

The Diocese of Marquette worked in partnership with the Department of Attorney General to pass along reports of allegations.  Victims often reach out to their faith leaders to share stories of alleged abuse.  The willingness of the Diocese to provide information was instrumental in the compilation of the report.  The report was shared with the Diocese of Marquette in advance of being released to the public to ensure accuracy and completeness.

The report contains detailed descriptions of allegations of sexual abuse and other sexual misconduct, including grooming and misuse of authority, against minors and adults.  The possible criminal prosecution of many these allegations is barred by the Statute of Limitations, or because the accused priest is deceased. 

The information is being released to the public as an acknowledgment to the victims of these alleged crimes and as a public accounting of the resources allocated to the Department of Attorney General to investigate and prosecute clergy abuse.  It is important to note, a criminal charge is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  The Department of Attorney General plans to release reports for each of the Dioceses.

“We must break down the walls of silence that so often surround sexual assault and abuse,” said Nessel.  “In the end, we hope this investigation provides a voice to those who have suffered in silence for so long and shines a light on those alleged offenders who have escaped punishment for their crimes by hiding in shadows.”

In October 2018, 42 Michigan State Police troopers, five officers from different law enforcement agencies and 15 special agents from the Department of Attorney General executed search warrants at Michigan’s seven dioceses. In that effort, they seized 220 boxes of paper documents and more than 3.5 million digital documents.

To date, the department has:

  • Completed the paper document review of more than 1.5 million documents;
  • Completed the electronic document review of the Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Lansing, and Marquette dioceses leaving only approximately 135,882 digital documents from the Archdiocese of Detroit;
  • Hired and trained a full-time victim advocate to support the hundreds of victims identified  during the investigation;
  • Continued to refer the completed criminal investigations back to the respective dioceses; and 
  • Followed up with victims who have not been interviewed by a trauma-informed interviewer.

“I want to commend the Michigan State Police and my staff for their unwavering commitment to seeing justice served in these tremendously difficult cases.  By using a victim-centered, trauma-informed focus in the investigation and prosecution, these teams were able to secure convictions based on the victim’s memories of events that occurred many years ago, most from when they were children.  Despite a lack of DNA evidence linking suspects to these crimes, prosecutors were able to prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt. I’m very proud of the work on behalf of victims.”

The Department has issued criminal charges in 11 cases from throughout the entire state and secured convictions in seven cases, delivering justice for 38 survivors.  Of the 11 cases, two of the cases were related to priests ministering in the Diocese of Marquette, one of which resulted in a conviction and the other is pending.

  1. People v. Vincent DeLorenzo – The case is scheduled for pretrial on November 21, 2022, in the Seventh Circuit Court, Genesee County, before Judge Kay Behm. 
  2. People v. Joseph “Jack” Baker –Baker was found guilty at a jury trial of one count of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and is scheduled for sentencing on November 2, 2022, in the Third Circuit Court, Wayne County, before Judge Bridget Hathaway.
  3. People v. Neil Kalina – At a jury trial in June 2022, Kalina was found guilty of two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree.  He was sentenced to 7-15 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections.
  4. People v. Gary Berthiaume – Berthiaume pled guilty to two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree and no contest to one count of gross indecency in October 2021.  He was sentenced in January 2022 to 17 months – 15 years and 17 months – 5 years to be served concurrently in the Michigan Department of Corrections.
  5. People v. Gary Jacobs – Jacobs, formerly of the Diocese of Marquette, pled guilty to one count on each of his four Ontonagon County cases, with a total of three counts of criminal sexual conduct first degree and one count of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree in April 2021. He was sentenced on these cases to 8-15 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections, along with lifetime sex offender registration and counseling. In Dickinson County, in May 2021, Jacobs pled guilty to criminal sexual conduct in the second degree. He was sentenced in July 2021 to 8-15 years in prison, with lifetime sex offender registration to be served concurrently.
  6. People v. Joseph Comperchio – In June 2021, Comperchio, an organist, pled guilty to one count of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and three counts of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree.  He was sentenced to 10-20 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections.
  7. People v. Brian Stanley – Stanley pled guilty to attempted false imprisonment and in January 2020 was sentenced to 60 days in jail, probation, and sex offender registration.
  8. People v. Patrick Casey – Casey was charged with one count of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. While a jury was deliberating, he pled guilty to aggravated assault. In November 2019, Casey was sentenced to 45 days in the Wayne County Jail and one year of probation.
  9. People v. Timothy Crowley – A preliminary examination was held in this matter in October 2019.  After the close of proofs, the case was dismissed by the court.  Ultimately, the Michigan Court of Appeals reinstated three of the charges.  Application for leave to appeal has been filed by the defense in the Michigan Supreme Court.
  10. People v. Roy Joseph – In January 2020, Joseph who was ministering in the Diocese of Marquette, was charged with one count of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.  He is awaiting extradition from India.
  11. People v. Jacob Vellian –In May 2019, Vellian was charged with two counts of rape under the previous criminal sexual conduct statute. He is awaiting extradition from India. 

In addition to the paper and digital documents seized from the dioceses, information is also received through the Attorney General’s clergy abuse tip line.  The tip line has generated 1015 tips related to abuse, leading to many police investigations, at least 180 victim interviews and more than 285 police reports.

Information can be shared via the investigation hotline at 844-324-3374 or by email.

For more information on the Attorney General’s clergy abuse investigation or to submit information, visit the department’s website.

Victims of sexual abuse and/or assault in need of additional resources should contact 855-VOICES4.

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A criminal complaint is merely an allegation unless and until the defendant is found guilty.