Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

Back in June, a man who grew up in the St. Isidore parish in Laingsburg, came back to town for a visit. It was then that he finally revealed a story about his past.

"He shared the abuse he suffered 50 years ago from Father John Martin," Michael Diebold, of the Diocese of Lansing, said.

The man claimed he was sexually abused by Father Martin when he was a young man. Around the same time, another man confessed a similar story to the current pastor.

"We then published a note from the Bishop in the bulletin at St. Isidore indicating he heard some disturbing information," Diebold said. "If anyone could help him shed light on the situation, they were encouraged to contact the diocese."

Four more men then came forward, all involved in some way with the pastor between 1941 and 1966.

"They had similar stories, and as the Bishop said, we believe them," Diebold said.

The victim's asked that their identities remain confidential, the circumstances surrounding the incidents will as well.

The diocese said they made this story public, because they fear there could be more victims.

"We want to give them an opportunity, if there are any more out there," to speak up," Diebold said.

Word spread quickly in Laingsburg Tuesday.

"First I saw the headline, and then I saw it was St. Isidore, I was shocked," John White, a Laingsburg resident said. "I know a lot of the members of that church, there's probably people I know because they're around my age."

Many News Ten talked to were reluctant to talk on camera because they said Father Martin can no longer defend himself.

The diocese said it's not about defaming Martin, it's about allowing the victims heal.

"It's a terribly sad thing," Diebold said, "but we wanted to be open and honest about it."

Bishop Boyea put letters in the bulletins of other parishes around the state where Father Martin served, but the only allegations have come from the St. Isidore parish.

If anyone has been a victim of Father Martin, they are encouraged to contact the Diocese of Lansing's victim assistance coordinator, Adrienne Rowland: 888.308.6252

Victims are being offered counseling.

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