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Michigan AG report on clergy abuse names 28 accused in Diocese of Gaylord

Diocese of Gaylord
Michigan Department of Attorney General
Diocese of Gaylord

A new report on alleged clergy abuse within the Diocese of Gaylord is detailing allegations against 28 priests and deacons.

The accusations involve allegations of misconduct with both children and adults. They date back to the 1950s.

Out of all those named, the report lists only a dozen as either still alive, or presumed to be living.

None of them, however, have been charged in connection with accusations in the report.

The Attorney General’s office says that’s due to factors like the statute of limitations or not having a victim willing to move forward.

Attorney General Dana Nessel said her office will always pursue charges when it's possible, "but a lot of times, we just can’t check all of those boxes. But it doesn’t mean that by putting this information together and putting it out publicly that we aren’t still able to serve the public and to help a lot of victims in a variety of different ways,” she said during a press conference Monday morning.

During the press conference, officials also discussed what they mentioned as grooming behavior that was worth pointing out but didn’t explicitly rise to the level of criminal activity.

Three priests listed in the report, with adult accusers, are still active in the ministry.

Bishop Jeffrey Walsh said their future will be discussed at an upcoming meeting. Beyond that, Walsh said the church is committed to learning from its mistakes.

“Continuous learning and refining our practices to build a safer environment has contributed to the decline in alleged sexual abuse by clergy,” Walsh said in a separate press conference Monday afternoon.

He offered an apology on behalf of the diocese, "expressing deep sorrow and shame," before mentioning steps taken to prevent further abuse.

Those include preventing clergy and staff from being alone with minors, requiring training, and conducting criminal background checks.

The Diocese of Gaylord report is the second in a planned series of reports into each of the seven Catholic dioceses in Michigan.

Nessel said she hopes the next one comes out within the next six months.

“We’re trying to be as expedient as possible but, again, we want to be accurate, and we want to be thorough. And those are the most important things,” Nessel said.

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