Michigan law enforcement officers recently arrested four former Michigan priests on charges of sexual misconduct. A warrant for the arrest of a fifth former priest, currently living abroad in India, also has been issued. These arrests follow a series of high profile priest sex abuse investigations in other states including Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Following up on calls made to a clergy abuse tip line, the Michigan Attorney General issued the warrants based on allegations of sexual abuse committed by the men. The alleged improper activity involved individuals ranging from the ages from five to 26 at the time of the alleged abuse.
Some of the charges against the ex-priests include rape and felony criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, and fourth degree. The bases for these charges include allegations of forced sexual contact. Other allegations detail the providing of illicit drugs and alcohol to minors leading up to the sexual misconduct. At least one abuse survivor previously received a settlement from the Diocese of Lansing in a settlement of abuse claims. The civil settlement will not impact the pursuit of criminal charges in this matter.
Michigan’s call-in tip line resulted in over 450 tips of clergy sexual misconduct. According to the Attorney General, some of the allegations may not be pursued due to expired statutes of limitations, the death of the alleged perpetrators, or the unwillingness of the victims to come forward. With only a small percentage of the tips investigated so far, the Attorney General’s Office anticipates more arrests to follow in the coming months.
Many other states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey have established criminal task forces to actively investigate allegations of sexual misconduct of priests. Among the duties of the New Jersey Clergy Abuse Taskforce is presenting evidence to the state jury for the filing of potential charges, issuing subpoenas to compel testimony or the production of church documents, and undertaking directed investigations.
Many states have instituted similar telephone tip lines to solicit information regarding alleged priest sex abuse. New Jersey’s dedicated sex abuse hotline is staffed by trained professionals, including task force detectives and prosecutors. Abuse survivors can reach the hot line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 855-363-6548. All tips are investigated and pursued by the criminal task force under New Jersey’s Division of Criminal Justice. New Jersey’s Catholic dioceses including Newark, Camden, Trenton, Paterson, and Metuchen are cooperating with the task force in sharing information about potential priest sex abuse.
By filing a civil suit against all parties who have committed or covered up sexual misconduct, sexual abuse survivors can obtain justice and begin to heal. In addition to compensation for the costs of medical treatment, psychological counseling, family or individual therapy, medications and lost wages, many survivors also entitled to emotional distress damages.
If you or a loved one has survived priest sex abuse, you are not alone. At Williams Cedar, our experienced New Jersey clergy abuse lawyers work compassionately with clergy abuse survivors seeking justice and compensation. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, to serve clergy abuse survivors and their families throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including those in Camden, Cherry Hill, Metuchen, and Trenton. To schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced Camden clergy abuse attorney today, call us at 215-557-0099 or 856-470-9777 or submit an online contact form.