On October 18, 2022, the Department of the Attorney General released a report regarding alleged sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by Catholic Dioceses in the Marquette Catholic Diocese. The report details the alarming number of incidents that occurred over decades at the church in Marquette, MI.
Our lead attorney at White Law PLLC, Jamie White, has proudly represented victims in nationally recognized sexual abuse cases, including representing hundreds of Boy Scouts of America victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse. Our team is dedicated to our clients and can provide a free case review to assess their situation.
Findings of the Attorney General’s Report
A team of Michigan State Police Detectives, Special Agents, and local police officers gathered vital information concerning sex abuse within the Diocese of Marquette over the course of eight hours on October 3, 2018. The investigative team gathered evidence through multiple methods, such as seizing over 1.5 million paper documents, 2.5 million electronic documents, victim interviews, a tip line, and police investigations.
This investigation revealed a wealth of information about the clergy sex abuse occurring in the Diocese of Marquette. Some key findings of the investigation include:
How Long the Abuse Went On
The clergy abuse report for the Diocese of Marquette stated that the abuse allegations mentioned spanned from January 1, 1950. This means Marquette residents experienced 73 consecutive years of sexual misconduct from priests the community trusted.
The report states that even though the Department of the Attorney General is providing this information, it does not serve as a confirmation that the allegations against the Diocese of Marquette are credible.
Number of Priests Accused
The report lists 44 priests that had allegations of sexual misconduct against them. Thirty-two priests the report mentions are dead, but the Department of Attorney General issued criminal charges in 11 cases and reached convictions in 7.
Out of the large group of priests, there were six that the Diocese of Marquette identified as having “substantiated claims against them of sexual abuse.” A substantiated claim means there’s enough evidence to incur that the allegations of abuse are true. The following priests had substantiated claims against them:
- Rev. Aaron Nowicki
- Rev. Joseph D. Carne
- Rev.Richard Craig
- Rev. James Menapace
- Terrence Healy
- Gary A. Jacobs
None of the priests listed above are in active ministry. Nowicki was removed from the ministry in 2019 and was later arrested in connection with a child trafficking case that year. The other priests are deceased or unable to practice as priests.
Types of Abuse Survivors Suffered
The clergy sexual abuse report for the Diocese of Marquette details dozens of stories about what the abuse survivors went through. Much of the content is graphic and can be upsetting to survivors, so we’ve summarized some of the most common stories of abuse allegations in the report:
- Priests grooming children of both sexes and forcing sexual acts
- Priests sexually touched adults and children without their consent
- Verbal manipulation and abuse to keep children from exposing the priest
- Priests showed minors pornographic magazines and discussed inappropriate sexual topics
- Priests slept in beds with children
- Priests provided alcohol to children and minors to persuade them to take part in sexual acts
The allegations of clergy sexual abuse detailed in the Marquette report are deeply troubling and highlight the need for greater transparency and accountability within religious institutions. It is important for victims to know their rights and seek justice and for communities to make changes to prevent further abuse.
Your Fight Is Our Fight
Effects of Clergy Abuse on Mental Health and Well-being
In the aftermath of suffering clergy sexual abuse, survivors’ worldview and self-construct, both vital aspects of mental health, can be severely impacted, along with many other aspects of their lives. A majority of clergy sex abuse survivors struggle with:
- Substance abuse
- Self-destructive actions
- Disorders that can be difficult to diagnose
Psychology Today notes that findings from a study show the most common and devastating effect of sexual abuse by a clergy member is difficulty forming and navigating healthy relationships later in life. In addition, due to the level of abuse survivors suffer, they feel guilty for the abuse and sometimes think it was their fault, even though it wasn’t.
Another effect after someone suffers sexual abuse is trust issues and feelings of betrayal. Our society places clergy members above the general public in respectability; most times, when a high-status person they trusted hurts them, it can cause severe mistrust in everyone, even their loved ones.
Why does Clergy Abuse Continue?
One of the most frequent questions about clergy sexual abuse is if states like Michigan and many others are taking action against it, why does it keep happening? Unfortunately, there are many ways that churches and priests can continue practicing and abusing people, whether it be due to loopholes in reporting or the authority of the church.
One of the biggest issues and common reasons why clergy sexual abuse continues is the power that the church has. For example, it can be an exciting moment for parents when children become close to a priest. But when the abuse starts to occur and a child does tell their parents, sadly, some parents may not believe their child because of priests’ moral high ground and how they’re supposed to behave ethically.
Another reason abuse may continue is that there are issues with reporting sexual abuse, the church doesn’t have a procedure, or they don’t follow one. While this is highly unethical, churches don’t want their reputation to be ruined by survivors of sexual abuse speaking out, so they cover up the abuse. Thankfully, many churches do have reporting procedures, but the abuse continues, so improvement is still needed.
We know how to get our clients the results they need in the toughest legal arenas.
How Victims of Clergy Abuse Can Get Justice
Victims of clergy abuse in Marquette, MI, have the right to pursue justice and hold negligent and abusive clergy members accountable. One of the most effective ways for victims to get justice is to file a lawsuit against the clergy member or institution responsible for the abuse. This legal action can result in monetary compensation for the victim and greater public awareness and accountability for the abuser.
Michigan’s statute of limitations gives you three years to file a claim if you suffered sexual abuse from a clergy member as an adult. And if you were a child when the abuse occurred, you have until your 28th birthday to file your claim.
Many states are passing legislation to extend the current statute of limitations. We are optimistic that Michigan will do the same. If you are a survivor of clergy abuse and it’s been three years since the abuse occurred, or you’ve passed your 28th birthday, contact us; we may still be able to help you pursue justice and compensation.
You will always work directly with your attorney throughout your case.
White Law PLLC Is Ready to Take on Clergy Abuse
At White Law PLLC, we’re dedicated to helping victims of clergy sexual abuse in Marquette, MI, surroundings areas, and nationwide. We’ve won settlements for survivors of sexual abuse, sexual assault, and misconduct in several cases.
We’re ready to help survivors of clergy sexual abuse take their lives back and begin healing.
We’re Experienced. We Care.
We Exceed Client Expectations.