Lansing Diocese Says Priest Molested Boys Years Ago

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A priest molested at least a half-dozen boys in the 1950s and '60s, according to the Catholic Diocese of Lansing, which has been looking into the matter over the past two months.

Officials with the diocese announced the findings on Monday and urged others who may have been abused by the Rev. John Martin to come forward so they can receive counseling.

"I pray to God there are no more victims," said Bishop Earl Boyea, leader of the diocese that serves more than 200,000 Catholics in 10 counties. "Think about these men carrying that burden all these years."
Boyea said he learned of the abuse claims on June 10 after two men told their stories to the Rev. Duaine Pamment, who is the pastor at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Laingsburg.

Martin was pastor of St. Isidore from 1941 to 1966. He died in 1968.
Notices were placed in church bulletins asking anyone with concerns about Martin's pastorate to contact Monsignor Steven Raica, chancellor of the diocese. The additional victims then came forward.

Boyea and Raica said the men were interviewed individually and that their stories were consistent. Diocese officials said they believe the allegations are true.

The victims were between the ages of 11 and 17 at the time the incidents occurred, Raica said.

Jack and Julie Risch started attending St. Isidore in 1962 and raised their eight children in the church. Both were surprised to hear of the allegations.

"We would never guess that," Julie Risch, 72, told the Lansing State Journal.

Jack Risch, 75, said he did volunteer work at St. Isidore and described having a good relationship with Martin.

"Personally, I don't have any recollection of anything improper," he told the newspaper.

The Risches said a 1966 fire burned the church to the ground, devastated Martin and prompted his retirement.


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