Michigan AG releases detailed report on sexual abuse allegations at Marquette Catholic Diocese

44 priests accused of abuse, grooming and misuse of authority

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

MARQUETTE, Mich. – A detailed report has been released by the Michigan attorney general’s office regarding allegations of sexual abuse that took place in the Marquette Catholic Diocese.

The report includes information from the attorney general’s tipline, interviews with survivors, police investigations, open-source media, paper and electronic documents seized from the diocese and reports of allegations disclosed by the diocese.

Nessel said the report was released in the interest of the public and to acknowledge reports of alleged abuse from survivors.

Nessel provided a statement via video, which you can watch below:

(Can’t see the video? Click here)

Abuse allegations date back to 1950; 44 priests on list

There is a list of priests who have faced allegations of sexual misconduct against either children or adults and dates back to Jan. 1, 1950.

The information was taken from a search warrant that was executed against the Diocese of Marquette on Oct. 3, 2018. There are 44 priests on the list. Thirty-eight of them 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.”

Report details sexual abuse, grooming and misuse of authority

The attorney general’s office shared the report with the Diocese of Marquette before they released it to the public.

The diocese worked with the attorney general’s office to pass along reports of allegations, according to officials. Survivors often spoke to their faith leaders about the alleged abuse.

“The willingness of the diocese to provide information was instrumental in the compilation of the report,” officials said in a press release.

The report contains allegations of sexual abuse and other sexual misconduct, including grooming and misuse of authority, against minors and adults. According to officials, possible criminal prosecution in many of the allegations is barred by the Statute of Limitations, or because the accused priest is dead.

The information is being released to the public to acknowledge the survivors of the alleged crimes. The attorney general’s office 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.”

Search warrants executed at 7 dioceses

In October of 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.

“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.”

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.

Criminal charges issued in 11 cases throughout Michigan

Criminal charges have been issued in 11 cases from throughout Michigan and convictions have come down in seven of those cases.

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.

Learn more about the status of the cases below:

  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.

Clergy abuse tipline

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 1,015 tips related to abuse, leading to many police investigations, at least 180 victim interviews and more than 285 police reports.

“We hope that this news encourages other victims who may still be suffering in silence to come forward and make a report to the Attorney General’s office. Unlike in other states where attorneys general claim to be working on behalf of victims but have little to show for it, we believe that the reports released and convictions achieved by the Michigan team shows that they are truly dedicated to transparency and pursuing justice on behalf of victims of clergy sexual abuse. We hope that any survivor, witness, or whistleblower with information will come forward and aid the Attorney General in her ongoing work to clean up the Catholic dioceses in Michigan,” The Survivors Network (SNAP), said in a statement.

If you have information regarding clergy abuse, you can reach the investigation hotline at 844-324-3374 or by email to aginvestigations@michigan.gov.

More information is also available online, click here.

View a PDF of the report below

(Can’t see the PDF? Click here)

If you have information about the Catholic Church that you believe should be investigated, you can contact the attorney general’s investigation hotline at 844-324-3374 (M-F; 8-5 p.m.), or click here to submit information.


About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.