Michigan Attorney General Releases Third Report on Alleged Diocesan Abuse

Some of the allegations contained in the report date to the 1970s and 1980s, though others occurred as recently as 2017.

The Cathedral of St. Augustine in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The Cathedral of St. Augustine in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (photo: rossograph / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has released the third of seven reports on alleged sexual abuse in dioceses throughout the state. 

The report details “allegations of abuse that took place in the Diocese of Kalamazoo,” one of seven in the state of Michigan. Previous reports focused on the Dioceses of Gaylord and Marquette.

As with the prior reports, the Kalamazoo investigation details abuse allegations that stretch back decades. The review includes allegations of misconduct “by priests who are current or former clergy for the Diocese of Kalamazoo that occurred in the diocese from Jan. 1, 1950, to the present.”

The Diocese of Kalamazoo was previously part of the Diocese of Grand Rapids; it did not become its own named diocese until 1971.

The diocese “agreed to provide reports of abuse to the Department of Attorney General,” Nessel’s office said, describing diocesan participation in the investigation as “instrumental.”

Though the report contains “detailed descriptions of allegations of sexual abuse and other sexual misconduct,” Nessel’s office noted that “criminal prosecution of many of these allegations is barred by the statute of limitations or because the accused priest is deceased.” 

“For too long, sexual assault and abuse have been surrounded by silence,” the attorney general said in the release.

“This investigation aims to shatter that silence, empowering survivors to speak their truth. My department is committed to ensuring that every case of sexual abuse and assault is thoroughly reviewed and investigated in an effort to pursue justice for victims.”

Some of the allegations contained in the report date to the 1970s and 1980s, though others occurred as recently as 2017. The allegations include alleged abuse perpetrated against minors as well as inappropriate behavior and conduct toward adults. 

The attorney general’s office said its wide-reaching report of the seven Michigan dioceses has included to date a review of “more than 1.5 million [paper] documents” and more than 3.5 million digital documents; the office has also “issued criminal charges in 11 cases throughout the entire state and secured convictions in nine cases.”

Two of those 11 cases originated from allegations in the Kalamazoo Diocese, Nessel’s office noted, including the prosecution and imprisonment of Father Brian Stanley, who pleaded guilty to “immobilizing a teenage boy by wrapping him tightly in plastic wrap and using masking tape as additional binding to cover the child’s eyes and mouth” as part of a school punishment. 

Father Stanley was sentenced to 60 days in prison and five years of probation. 

In a statement on Wednesday following the release of the report, Kalamazoo Bishop Edward Lohse said past abuse in the diocese is “an historical reality.” 

“It is tragic, appalling, and inexcusable. No one knows this better than you who are the victim- survivors of that abuse,” the bishop said. 

“You were entrusted to our care, and we failed to protect you,” the bishop said. “There is no other way to put it. For that failure, I am deeply sorry.”

The prelate said the diocese “continue[s] to strengthen our efforts to protect children and youth and to educate people to recognize signs of behavior that put youth at risk.”

Bishop Lohse said the diocese would unveil updated youth protection policies later this summer.