AG Nessel charges and arrests priests in clergy abuse investigation

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LANSING, MI (WILX) -- Five men who were priests have been charged with a total of 21 counts of criminal sexual conduct., Attorney General Dana Nessel announced in a news conference Friday morning.

A sixth Michigan priest is facing an administrative complaint and his license as a professional educationally limited counselor has been summarily suspended by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

"In the last 30 hours, more than a dozen members of our investigative team have been in courtrooms in Washtenaw, Wayne, Genesee, Macomb and Berrien Counties while other members of our team have been working with local law enforcement in Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan--all in a carefully executed plan to take these charged defendants off the streets," Nessel said. "Almost all of these charges came as a direct result of calls to our tip line but were then corroborated by files seized from the dioceses last fall, followed by multiple interviews with victims."

These are the charges that were filed.

Timothy Michael Crowley, 69-years-old, of the Lansing Diocese was charged in Washtenaw County with four felony counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the first degree, carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison and a lifetime of electronic monitoring and four felony counts of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Crowley, who was a priest in various parishes, including St. Thomas Rectory in Ann Arbor, was arrested Thursday in Tempe, Arizona.

Neil Kalina, 63, Archdiocese of Detroit, was charged in Macomb County with four felony counts of CSC 2, a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a lifetime of electronic monitoring. Kalina, who was a priest at St. Kiernan Catholic Church in Shelby Township, was arrested Thursday in Littlerock, California.

Vincent DeLorenzo, 80-years-old, of the Lansing Diocese, was charged in Genesee County with three felony counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the first degree carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison and a lifetime of electronic monitoring, and three felony counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the second degree a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. DeLorenzo, who was a priest at Holy Redeemer Church in Burton, was arrested Thursday in Marion County, Florida.

Patrick Casey, 55-years-old, of the Archdiocese of Detroit, was charged in Wayne County with one felony count of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the third degree carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Casey, who was a priest at St. Theodore of Canterbury Parish in Westland, was arrested Thursday in Oak Park, Michigan.

Jacob Vellian, 84-years-old, of the Kalamazoo Diocese, was charged with two counts of Rape carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison. Vellian was a priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish, Benton Harbor, and now lives in Kerala, India.

Nessel said although some of these men have been arrested abroad, they will be brought back to Michigan for their hearings.

"Although we have charged these men with very serious crimes, I want to remind everyone that they are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law," Nessel said.

Ann Sherman, deputy solicitor general, announced she was proud to be one of the many catholic members on the investigative team. She said the individuals who have been charged with these crimes do not represent, or helped to cover up the abuse, do not represent her religion.

"These individuals have acted to harm the people of the state, the people I serve as an attorney in the department of attorney general," Sherman said. "I am deeply disturbed by what we have discovered."

Sherman said she was also disturbed by some of the attitudes had by some of the member in the hierarchy of the church, who she said demonstrated serious misunderstanding of sexual assault.

Sherman said among the documents reviewed so far, they found one document of a priest who was discussing another priest's abuse of a child. Sherman said he shared his own philosophy of sexual assault and explained that the child should simply admit that he teased, enticed, or gave permission for the abuse to occur.

Andy Russell, a 50-year-old man from Jackson, who was abused from the clergy as a child also expressed his gratitude for the work Nessel and the investigative team has done at the press conference.

"I come here with gratitude and I come here thankful for what you guys are doing because I know what you're about to experience is what I've gone through and it doesn't feel good, and you're going to want to put your headphones on and you're going to want to escape into music," Russell said.

Members of the Attorney General Clergy Abuse Investigative Team have been working to review hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that were seized from Mcihigan's seven Catholic dioceses in October of 2018.

The Attorney General Clergy Abuse Hotline has received more than 400 tips since the beginning of the year.

SNAP, the Survivors Network, that has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years, released a statement following Nessel's announcement.

"We are grateful to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for updating the public on her investigation and for her and her team’s steadfast pursuit of justice for survivors of clergy sexual abuse. The charges announced today will bring not only healing to survivors in Michigan but will also help keep the vulnerable safer.

By charging five priests with these 21 counts of criminal sexual conduct, AG Nessel and her team have shown that secular investigations work and that survivors who do come forward and make a report have a real shot at justice. We hope that today’s news will encourage other survivors who have yet to speak out to call in to the AG’s hotline at 844-324-3374 or send an email to aginvestigations@michigan.gov.

AG Nessel said that she and her team were only about ten percent of the way through the more than 450 tips they have received, so we are especially hopeful for the results of this investigation based on the progress announced today. We hope that as the investigative team in Michigan work their way through the remaining tips that other charges will be filed, communities will be safer, and survivors throughout the state will feel believed and be encouraged to come forward."

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