Will Be Heard
STEVE CRANE JR is the Attorney that gets you justice for cLERGY sexual abuse.
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE | CIVIL LAWSUITS
STEVE CRANE JR. SECURES JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF CHURCH SEXUAL ABUSE.
A church or place of worship is a safe place, a place of faith, love, and acceptance. However, some church clergy, priests, volunteers, and leaders destroy this sacred environment by sexually abusing innocent children.
For years, the church and its revered leaders have denied allegations of church sexual abuse, while innocent child victims grew up into adulthood plagued by the horrendous effects of that abuse.
If you or your child have been or are being sexually abused by clergy, there are multiple legal possibilities to pursue when it comes to who to sue for sexual abuse especially in the Catholic Church. It is never too late to report the abuse and get help.
Steve Crane is deeply committed and driven to help survivors recover whatever has been taken from them together with recovery for what they have suffered and lost as a result of sexual abuse and assaultive acts by another as an adult. He has the experience and expertise to help you. He is relentless in his pursuit of being the survivor’s champion.
Why? What lit this intense fire in him?
Early in his life, Steve witnessed pre-teens and teens being bullied, hazed and attacked by other pre-teens and teens. The perpetrators attacked because they could. They had power and dominance, while the victims did not. For each attack, Steve stepped in and stopped it. Steve has always remained vigilant, highly insightful, compassionate, approachable, tolerant, and understanding the pain endured by others.
Steve is personally and professionally driven to help victims and survivors of past and present sex abuse, bullying, hazing, and physical assaults to find safety, recover and put their lives back together. He is truly a comforting light – assuring protection, and safety in addition to winning the financial compensation his clients deserve for their pain and loss.
If you are a victim or survivor of church sexual abuse, you should contact experienced and respected attorney Steve Crane. He and his team can assess the facts of your case and help you in a trusted, private and secure manner determine the best course of action to move forward.
To schedule a discrete and confidential consultation about your matter, email or call us at (833) 855-4400.
Clergy Sexual Abuse Quick Links
Church Sexual Abuse in Michigan is a Problem
Most victims of sexual abuse suffer in silence for years and very few ever report what happened to them.
When it comes to church sexual abuse in Michigan, here is what we know:
- A two-year investigation into sexual abuse in Michigan Catholic churches has, so far, identified 454 accused priests and 811 victims, and led to charges against 11 clergymen.
- Michigan law enforcement authorities executed search warrants in October 2018 on all seven of Michigan’s Catholic dioceses. Two-hundred and twenty boxes of paper documents and more than 3.5 million digital documents were seized.
- The State of Michigan clergy abuse tip line (844-324-3374) has generated 750 tips that uncovered an additional 435 victims and 316 accused priests leading to 112 police investigations, 180 victim interviews and 285 police reports.
- The Michigan Attorney General’s Office’s Clergy Abuse Investigative Team, as of September 2020, have reviewed 2.24 million digital documents and still have yet to review another 1.26 million digital documents. The team is expected to complete its document review in 2021.
11 cases related to the state’s clergy abuse investigation:
- Vincent DeLorenzo, who was a priest at Holy Redeemer Church in Burton, was arrested in Marion County, Fla., in May 2019. He is charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
- Jacob Vellian, a former priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Benton Harbor, was charged in May 2019 with two counts of rape. His extradition from India is in progress.
- Timothy Crowley, who was a priest at St. Thomas Rectory in Ann Arbor, was charged in May 2019 with four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was arrested in Tempe, Az. Crowley’s case was dismissed after a preliminary examination. The AG’s office filed an appeal in December, and it remains pending in Ann Arbor Circuit Court.
- Gary Jacobs, a priest at parishes in Ewen and Iron Mountain in the Upper Peninsula, faces 10 criminal sexual conduct charges in five cases. He was arrested in January in Albuquerque, N.M.
- Roy Joseph, a priest in Marquette, was charged in Marquette County with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. His extradition from India is in progress.
- Neil Kalina, who was a priest at St. Kiernan Catholic Church in Shelby Township, was charged in May 2019 with two felony counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and arrested in Littlerock, Calif.
- Joseph “Jack” Baker, a pastor at St. Mary Parish in Wayne and an associate pastor at Sacred Heart in Dearborn and at St. Hugo of the Hills Parish in Bloomfield Hills, was charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He awaits a trial date in Wayne County Circuit Court.
- Joseph Comperchio, a teacher at St. John Elementary in Jackson County, was charged in September with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He waived extradition and returned to Michigan on Oct. 1, 2020.
- Gary Berthiaume, a former priest at Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, was charged with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was arrested in late September in Illinois and returned to Michigan.
- Patrick Casey, who was a priest at St. Theodore of Canterbury Parish in Westland, was charged with one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in May 2019. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault after a jury trial in Wayne County Circuit Court in October 2019 and served 45 days in the Wayne County Jail.
- Brian Stanley, who was a priest at St. Margaret’s Church in Coldwater, was charged with false imprisonment and pleaded guilty on Nov. 20, 2019. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, probation and sex offender registration.
More information found here:
Confidentiality and Privacy When Filing a Sexual Abuse Civil Lawsuit
A child is entitled to privacy under State and Federal Law. Michigan Courts will protect your right to file as a “Jane or John Doe” to permit a child to maintain anonymity and privacy while still allowing you to pursue justice.
An adult is entitled to privacy too. When possible, Steve will file your case as “Jane or John Doe.” This can keep your identity private, while still allowing you to pursue the deserved justice.
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse or assault, it is important that you have legal counsel that understands and has the compassion to address the damages you have suffered emotionally and physically.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by speaking with Steve Crane and his team regarding your safety, good name, and legal options. Steve has helped many victims of sexual assault and abuse obtain substantial recoveries when they were abused.
Contact Steve Crane now and be assured he will discreetly and in full confidence discuss your case. To schedule a discrete and confidential consultation about your matter, email or call him at (833) 855-4400.
Michigan Laws Pertaining to Sexual Abuse in the Church
If you plan on pressing criminal charges, there are a number of laws in Michigan regarding sexual violence, including:
- “Statutory Rape” aka in Michigan as Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st Degree: Unlawful sexual intercourse is an act of sexual penetration with a person who is person under 13 years of age. (Michigan Penal Code MCL 750.520b)
- “Rape” known as in Michigan as Criminal Sexual Conduct 4th Degree “Sexual Battery” & “Sexual Contact:” Prohibits any sexual contact if the victim is between the ages of 13 and 16 and the alleged suspect is 5 years or older than the victim. Any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery. (Michigan Penal Code MCL 750.520e)
- “Statutory Rape” aka in Michigan as Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree: Unlawful sexual intercourse is an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person who is a minor. For the purposes of this section, a “minor” is a person under the age of 18 years. An “adult” is a person who is at least 18 years of age. (Michigan Penal Code MCL 750.520d)
Other laws have been used to hold church organizations responsible for sexual abuse include:
- Racketeering / Control of Profits of Organized Crime Act “RICO”: Property is subject to forfeiture when a person has engaged in a pattern of criminal activity intended for financial gain, or when a person received property through criminal profiteering activities. Michael Mroziak, A RICO Civil Case Against The Catholic Church Can Reap Big Rewards… If You Can Prove It WSKG Public Telecommunications Council.
- Public Nuisance: A “nuisance” is something that is injurious to health, indecent, offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of public property. Nuisances interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property among members of the community. It is a crime to commit a public nuisance, fail to perform a duty to remove a public nuisance, or to allow a public nuisance to remain on your property. Noelle Price, Catholic Church Case Settles under Public Nuisance Theory.
- Consumer Protection [the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, MCL 445.901 et seq]: In the State of West Virginia, the state’s attorney general charged church officials with failure to conduct proper background checks and warn parents of known risks—particularly in Catholic schools, where repeated abuses have occurred. In State of California, consumer protection laws make it a crime to engage in “methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts that result in the sale of goods or services to a consumer.” Attacking the Abuse Crisis with Consumer Protection Laws. Unfortunately, the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, once regarded as one of the strongest Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices (UDAP) statutes in the country, has in the last few years been eviscerated by a series of rulings by the Michigan Supreme Court. The concern centers on business innovation, where overly broad interpretations and applications of the UDAP statutes could have a chilling effect on business innovation and leave many businesses uncertain which business practices are favored and which practices are not
The following law paves the way for third-party liability in civil court:
- Child Custody and Protection [the Michigan Child Protection Law, MCL 722.623]: State professionals who work with children—including church volunteers and clergy—are mandated to file a report with the police or state welfare agency within 36 hours if they know about or suspect child abuse. The one exception is when a person confesses child sexual abuse to a priest, although proposed legislative action would eliminate that loophole.
- Child Custody and Protection [the Michigan Child Protection Law, MCL 722.631]: Section does not relieve a member of the clergy from reporting suspected child abuse or child neglect if that member of the clergy receives information concerning suspected child abuse or child neglect while acting in any other capacity other than as a member of the clergy.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Church Sexual Abuse in Civil Court?
The perpetrator of the sexual abuse is the most obvious target in criminal court. If the Prosecutor is successful in proving that the abuser has committed a crime “against the state,” then the defendant may be sentenced to jail, probation, fined with reparations payable to the state government, and placed on a sex offender registry.
Along with pressing criminal charges, you may also pursue a civil lawsuit against the abuser, which can result in compensation paid to you or your loved one, i.e., your child, for medical expenses, loss of wages or lost earning capacity, and mental pain, suffering, and distress.
Beyond suing the perpetrator of abuse, civil courts allow for an expanded scope of liability that, in cases of church sexual abuse, could include:
- Church administrators and mandated reporters for their role in allowing a known perpetrator continued access to children; for failing to report child abuse to the proper authorities; failing to take corrective action; moving priests around without telling parishes about past incidents; and for trying to cover up the abuse.
- The bishop for knowingly employing a pedophile into a position of power where working with children is inevitable.
- The diocese for hiding records of child abuse from the public, failing to report abuse to authorities, and failing to remove known offenders from office.
- The Pope and the Vatican for failing to take corrective action, failing to develop policies and procedures that would prevent child abuse, and failing to report offenders to authorities or aid in investigations.
A case for liability can be made against the church, but it is not an easy battle, particularly when attempting to hold those responsible who sit higher up in the chain of command. For instance, the Vatican, has been sued many times for sexual abuse yet has never been held liable. Nonetheless, including them as a party in these lawsuits is important because it places considerable pressure on the Pope to publicly address these concerns and make it a priority to develop new policies and procedures aimed at preventing future abuses from occurring. Edward Pentin, Vatican Summit Promises Course Change on Sexual Abuse, Concrete Actions Pending.
For cases where the perpetrators of sexual abuse are not collectable or too impoverished to pay damages or have long since died, suing the diocese can be a glimmer of hope for adult victims and survivors in need of compensation for personal damages. For example, Massachusetts attorneys have been successful in taking on Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, who invested in large insurance policies, and agreed to pay $85 million to settle almost 550 lawsuits by individuals who were sexually abused by priests.
As recently as 2011, in a comprehensive report, BishopAccountability.org “identified specific, mostly large settlements and awards totaling $2.49 billion, paid out by dioceses and religious orders and by their insurers to survivors of sexual abuse by clergy in the United States.” http://www.bishop-accountability.org/settlements/ (last visited Dec 31, 2020).
Scope of the Problem: Statistics found at RAINN: https://www.rainn.org/statistics/scope-problem
RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization
The Deadline for Filing a Sexual Abuse Civil Lawsuit
The deadline for filing lawsuits is called the “statute of limitations.” It’s when the clock starts to tick. When the clock starts to tick for cases of sexual abuse varies by type of abuse. Whether it was sexual in nature? Assaultive and violent in nature? Both sexual and assaultive? Whether the person was a minor or mentally incapacitated? Whether or not you’re pressing criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit? Like many things in life, the statute of limitations is intentionally confusing.
As a general rule, the statute of limitations varies when the assault amounts to criminal sexual conduct (“rape”), whether the perpetrator has been charged criminally or not. Under such circumstances, the statute of limitations is 10 years. MCL 600.5805(6). In addition, the statute of limitations could be longer if the sexual assault, abuse, or rape occurred when the survivor was a minor. MCL 600.5851b.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by speaking with Steve Crane and his team regarding your safety, good name, and legal options.
If you are a victim or survivor of sexual abuse, you should contact experienced and respected trial attorney Steve Crane. He and his team can assess the facts of your case and help you in a trusted, private, and secure manner determine the best course of action to move forward.
To schedule a discrete and confidential consultation about your matter, email or call us at (833) 855-4400 today.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Crane Law PLLC or Steve Crane, Esq. Neither your receipt of information from this website nor your use of this website to contact Crane Law PLLC or Steve Crane, Esq. creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.