LANSING (WWJ) - Authorities have arrested multiple current and former Michigan Catholic priests on charges of sexual abuse.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says the priests served in dioceses in Detroit, Lansing and Kalamazoo. Four were arrested in Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan over the last two days, while the fifth awaits extradition from India.
This comes as a clergy abuse investigative team has been reviewing hundreds of thousands of pages of documents seized from the dioceses last October. In addition, investigators have been following up on more than 400 tips that have been called into the Michigan Attorney General’s clergy abuse hotline since the beginning of the year.
At a news conference Friday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said all of these charges come as a result of tips that came in on the hotline.
In addition, the professional educationally limited counselor’s license of Lawrence Ventline, a priest with the Archdiocese of Detroit, was summarily suspended by LARA last week and the Attorney General has filed an administrative licensing complaint against him.
Nessel said the victims continue to pay the price for many years after the abuse occurs.
"Children who are abused suffer from a variety of challenges," she said. "For example, when it comes to academics, sexual assault victims are at an increased risk of educational underachievement, including lower verbal and math scores, which can contribute to unemployment as adults. They're more likely to have higher rates of absenteeism, they're more likely to repeat a grade, and they're more likely to drop out of school."
The AG was joined by Deputy Solicitor General Ann Sherman, who said, “It is my hope, as a Catholic and a public servant, that we can bring all predators to justice, creating a path toward healing for the victims of the sexual abuse scandal and underscoring the need for the Catholic Church to be transparent and to report sexual abuse to appropriate law enforcement.”
Also speaking at the news conference was Andy Russell, an alleged victim of Father Raap, who urged Nessel to continue the fight to go after clergy abuse and reminding victims to call the hotline. “I got justice and I want justice for everyone else. That’s why I am here – to make sure this attorney general gets the support she needs to keep doing this.”
As the investigation continues, Nessel expected there are many more charges to come. She believes there could be hundreds, possibly thousands, of alleged victims of clergy abuse across the state.