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11 men have been charged as Attorney General’s clergy abuse investigation hits 2-year mark

Clergy Abuse Investigative Team

Title: 11 men have been charged as Attorney General’s clergy abuse investigation hits 2-year mark
Author: TV6 News Team
Publisher: TV6 Upper Michigan’s Source
Date: 22OCT2020
Gary Jacobs, a priest at parishes in Ewen and Iron Mountain, is facing 10 counts in 5 cases. Roy Joseph, a priest in Marquette, is facing one county of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) – Millions of documents have been reviewed and 11 men have been or are being prosecuted by Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office since authorities executed search warrants two years ago on all seven of Michigan’s Catholic dioceses as part of the state’s investigation into clergy abuse.

Forty-two Michigan State Police troopers, five officers from different law enforcement agencies and 15 special agents from the Attorney General’s office executed search warrants on Oct. 3, 2018, at Michigan’s seven dioceses. In that effort, they seized 220 boxes of paper documents and more than 3.5 million digital documents.

Due to a slowdown in court operations as a result of COVID-19, no charged cases have been resolved through plea deals or trial since late 2019. However, the review of documents has continued along with other steps to further the investigation. To date, the department has:

  • Completed the paper document review of the Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Marquette dioceses. Of the 220 boxes of paper documents seized, about 78 boxes remain;
  • Completed the electronic document review of the Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Marquette dioceses;
  • Hired and trained a full-time victim advocate to support the hundreds of victims identified in the course of the investigation;
  • Continued to refer the completed criminal investigations back to the respective dioceses; and
  • Followed up with victims who have not been interviewed with a trauma-informed interviewer – including those whose cases are barred by the Statute of Limitations, where the accused priest has died or any other reason that makes criminal prosecution impossible.

Through the department’s review of paper documents alone, 454 accused priests and 811 reported victims have been identified. That number may change as investigatory efforts continue.

As of Sept. 28, the Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Investigative Team had reviewed more than 2.24 million of the digital documents seized.

Attorney General Nessel recorded a video messageto outline the progress her office has made.

“I am deeply proud of the work our Clergy Abuse Investigative Team has done – and we are dedicated to continuing this incredibly important work,” Nessel said. “We are committed to ensuring that every case of sexual abuse and assault is thoroughly reviewed and that whenever we are able to pursue justice for a victim, we do so aggressively and relentlessly. We must all commit to breaking down the walls of silence that so often surround sexual assault and abuse. In the end, we hope this investigation provides a voice to those who have suffered in silence for so long and shines a light on those offenders who have escaped punishment for their crimes by hiding in shadows.”

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