Five Catholic priests have been indicted on new sexual assault charges stemming from an investigation involving sex abuse among clergy in the church. The investigation was initiated in Michigan under the oversight of the State Attorney General Dana Nessel. At least one of those priests has been found in Florida. The allegations and charges were the product of anonymous tip lines and documents seized from the Catholic Church detailing complaints that had been filed with them.
Much of the problem stems from the fact that the Church, in response to allegations of sexual abuse, chose to bury the cases in confidential settlements in which they paid out handsome sums of money. The Church remains one of the richest organizations on earth and with a nearly bottomless pocketbook, paid off victims under seal and simply moved the offending priest from one diocese to the next.
Some Priests Were Defrocked
According to reports, there were five men who face allegations of child sex abuse, four of whom have been found. The last suspect, Jacob Vellian, lives in Indiana and faces two counts of rape, the most serious charges against any of the five. Vellian, who is now 84 years old, retired from the church in 2010.
Two other priests who served in Lansing, MI were removed from ministry. One of those Vincent DeLorenzo was reported for sexual abuse in 2002. The diocese came forward to law enforcement with the allegation and asked other victims of the cleric to report any abuse that had happened. As a result, seven more victims came forward to report DeLorenzo. This includes victims as late as 2018 and 2019. DeLorenzo had been removed from ministry but was never laicized. DeLorenzo now faces six counts of sexual abuse.
Another Lansing priest, Timothy Crowley, was removed from ministry in 1993 and later defrocked. However, he was assigned to Anchorage, Alaska after the 1993 report of sexual abuse. The diocese says that they reported Crowley to authorities but authorities never acted on the call.
In 2002, the Catholic Church implemented a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abusers in the church and shortly thereafter, Crowley was defrocked.
In one case, Neil Kalina had allegedly distributed cocaine and alcohol to kids because “he wanted to get closer to them”. Kalina pleaded guilty to charges as far back as 1986. Kalina left the church in 1993 but continued to call himself “Father Neil” and set up a GoFundMe to assist runaway and otherwise troubled youths.
Dana Nessel indicated that more charges could be forthcoming and that the investigation would continue. She called the recent charges “just the tip of the iceberg”.
The Catholic Church has become the target of numerous civil lawsuits as well, accusing them of taking known abusers and putting them into contact with more victims.
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