Michigan Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyers
Were you sexually abused by a priest or clergy member? You could be entitled to significant compensation for physical injuries and emotional trauma caused by your abuser. Abuse by a trusted member of the church—someone you and your family lean on for comfort, support, and strength—is devastating.
Survivors of sexual abuse often experience psychological issues that last for years after the abuse occurred. Every aspect of your life can be affected. If a clergy member sexually abused you, you need not suffer alone. The clergy sexual abuse lawyers at Sommers Schwartz, P.C., have decades of success standing up for survivors of injury and abuse.
Our trial attorneys are passionate advocates who create winning strategies that help our clients achieve the justice and compensation they deserve. We understand your case is extremely sensitive, and we work hard to make the process as easy for you as possible. Call today for a free and confidential case evaluation.
What Compensation Is Available for Sexual Abuse Survivors in Michigan?
It doesn’t matter if you are a male or female or if your abuser was a man or a woman – any scenario where someone made unwanted sexual advances or unwanted sexual contact with you is not okay. You deserve justice after such a traumatic time in your life.
The Michigan attorney general has investigated and charged numerous priests within the Catholic Church. Since her investigations began, these priests have been charged with criminal sexual conduct:
- Timothy Michael Crowley, 69, Lansing Diocese, previously a priest at St. Thomas Rectory in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- Neil Kalina, 63, Archdiocese of Detroit, previously a priest at St. Kiernan Catholic Church in Shelby Township, Michigan, from 1982 to 1985.
- Patrick Casey, 55, Archdiocese of Detroit, previously a priest at St. Theodore of Canterbury Parish in Westland, Michigan.
- Jacob Vellian, 84, Kalamazoo Diocese, previously a priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
- Vincent DeLorenzo, 80, Lansing Diocese, previously a priest at Holy Redeemer Church in Burton, Michigan.
- Joseph (Jack) Baker, Archdiocese of Detroit, previously a priest at St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford, Michigan; St. Mary Parish in Wayne, Michigan; Sacred Heart Parish in Dearborn, Michigan; and associate pastor at St. Hugo of the Hills Parish in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
- Brian Stanley, 57, Lansing, Michigan Diocese, previously a priest at St. Margaret’s Church.
- Joseph Comperchio, 68, taught at St. John Catholic School in Jackson, Michigan, from 1974 to 1977 and at Canterbury School in Lee County, Florida.
- Gary Berthiaume, 80, previously a priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte and later Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, Michigan.
On October 27, 2022, the Michigan Attorney General’s office released a Report of Alleged Abuse at Marquette Catholic Diocese about allegations of abuse in the Marquette Catholic Diocese. According to the AGs office, the list of priests alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct against children or adults since January 1, 1950, is derived from information gleaned from a search warrant executed against the Diocese of Marquette on October 3, 2018. There are 44 priests on this list; 38 were employed or incardinated by the Marquette Diocese. The list identifies these priests:
- Fr. Casimir Adasiewicz, died 1981.
- Fr. Thomas Anderson, died 1981.
- Fr. Emil Beyer, died 2003.
- Fr. Joseph Carne, died 2019.
- Fr. Leonard Cornelius, O.F.M., active ministry at Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.
- Fr. Richard T. Craig, removed from ministry in 1993.
- Fr. Timothy Desrochers, died 2020.
- Fr. Thomas Dunleavy, 2002.
- Fr. Gino Ferraro, died 1976.
- Fr. Wilbur Gibbs, died 1988.
- Fr. Basil Goerner, died 2008.
- Fr. Michael Hale, died 1975.
- Fr. Gerald Harrington, died 1962.
- Fr. Donald Hartman, died 1999, removed from the ministry in 1992.
- Fr. Aloysius Hasenberg, died 2016, removed from the ministry in 2008.
- Fr. Terrence Healy, died 2019, removed from ministry in 1987 and convicted of criminal sexual conduct.
- Fr. Raymond Hoefgen, died 2012, removed from the ministry in 2002.
- Fr. John Hughes, died 1979.
- Fr. Gary Jacobs, removed from ministry in 1989 and convicted of criminal sexual conduct.
- Fr. Roy Joseph, charged with criminal sexual conduct.
- Fr. Norbert Lacosse, died 2014, removed from the ministry in 1990.
- Fr. Frank Lenz, remains in ministry with limitations.
- Fr. Clement Lepine, died 2000.
- Fr. Mark McQuesten, remains in active ministry.
- Fr. James Menapace, died 2022, removed from the ministry in 2002.
- Fr. Peter Minelli, died 2017, removed from the ministry in 2014.
- Fr. Albert Mligo, presumed alive.
- Fr. Robert Monroe, died 1980.
- Fr. Aaron Nowicki, removed from ministry in 2019, charged with criminal sexual conduct.
- Fr. Vincent Ouellette, died 1998.
- Fr. Wilfred Pelletier, died 1973.
- Fr. Anthony Polakowski, died 1978.
- Fr. Armour Roberts, died 1989.
- Fr. David Rocheleau, died 1984.
- Fr. Nelson Daniel Rupp, presumed alive, resigned as pastor in 1996.
- Fr. Walter Sheedlo, presumed alive, removed from ministry in 2009.
- Fr. Don Shiroda, died 2011.
- Fr. Ephream/Ephraim Sitko, died 1982.
- Fr. Neil Smith, died 2007.
- Fr. Charles Strelick, died 2017, retired from the ministry in 1995.
- Fr. Jan Szczykowski, unknown if dead or alive, returned to Poland in 1998.
- Fr. Guy Thoren, died 2011, removed from the ministry in 2002.
- Fr. Bernard Van Der Schueren, SJ, died 2009.
- Fr. James Wolf, O.F.M., CAP, alive, retired/restricted in ministry since 2005.
If a Catholic priest in Michigan abused you, you can file a complaint here with the Attorney General’s office. They can investigate the case from a criminal perspective, but we can investigate the matter for a civil suit and monetary damages.
While sexual abuse may be prosecuted as a criminal offense, criminal penalties don’t compensate you for the pain and emotional suffering you experienced from the abuse. A sexual abuse lawyer will help hold your abusers financially accountable.
You could be entitled to compensation for:
- Anxiety, depression, and emotional distress.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Medical bills, including costs for ongoing therapy or counseling.
- Lost wages if the abuse resulted in your inability to work.
- Treatment of physical injuries resulting from the abuse.
- Loss of enjoyment of everyday life activities.
- Embarrassment or damage to your reputation in the community or church.
It’s incredibly brave to come forward and stand up to priests or clergy members who have abused you. We stand with you every step of the way to fight for justice for you and your family.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for Sexual Abuse by a Clergy Member?
If a clergy member in Michigan has abused you, you may be able to pursue legal action against the person who assaulted you and possibly against the Catholic Church or Diocese. The clergy are considered employees of the church, and the church is responsible for the actions of its employees and church leaders.
Additionally, under the Child Protection Law Act 238 of 1975 the clergy are responsible for reporting child neglect or abuse. This means if a clergy member was aware of abuse within their church, they must report it. If the church knew the abuse was happening and didn’t intervene (or worse, tried to cover it up), the church itself could be held liable for perpetuating the abuse.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for Sexual Abuse?
If you were over age 18 when the abuse occurred, you’d have three years to bring a claim. That’s the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Michigan.
In 2018, Michigan changed its deadline for survivors who were abused as minors. Someone who is the victim of criminal sexual abuse as a minor must file a civil lawsuit by their 28th birthday or within three years of the abuse being discovered, whichever is later.
Understandably, the trauma inflicted by sexual abuse can prevent victims from telling their stories. Many reasons exist for not coming forward right away. Survivors of sexual abuse, especially children, rarely recognize the serious nature of what happened to them until many years later. Survivors may fear their abuser or worry nobody will believe them. It’s essential to seek legal advice as soon as you are able after you recognize the signs of abuse.
While the recent changes to Michigan law have extended the time to file a claim, lawmakers are trying to give assault survivors even more time. Newly proposed legislation would give people until the latest of (a) their 48th birthday, (b) ten years after the abuse, or (c) seven years after discovering their abuse. The proposed legislation would remove the time limit in cases where the abuser was convicted of a crime connected with the sexual assault. Finally, the proposed law would provide a two-year revival period so survivors with claims before the legislation have a second shot at filing.
Call a Michigan Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorney for Help
While money cannot erase the trauma you’ve suffered after being hurt by a clergy member or church staff member, it can help bring financial stability to your future as you continue to heal physically and emotionally. By holding the abusers and the institutions that looked the other way accountable, we help obtain justice for families that have been through unimaginable trauma.
The experienced and compassionate Michigan sexual abuse lawyers at Sommers Schwartz, P.C., will give your case the immediate attention it deserves. We are here to listen and help you determine your best course of action. Call or contact a Sommers Schwartz attorney online today for a free and completely confidential consultation.
We fight hard. And we win.
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