Each Catholic diocese in Michigan raided in abuse investigation

Michigan State Capitol Building in Lansing MI Credit John McLenaghan Shutterstock CNA The Michigan capitol building in Lansing. | John McLenaghan/Shutterstock.

Police raided diocesan properties at all seven Catholic dioceses in Michigan this week as part of an ongoing investigation into cases of child sex abuse by clergy.

In the Archdiocese of Detroit, officials searched multiple diocesan properties, including the chancery, the Cardinal Mooney Building at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, and the office of Msgr. Michael Bugarin, the archdiocesan Delegate for Clergy Misconduct, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The raids are part of an investigation launched last month by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, which will look into cases of clerical sex abuse of children in all seven of the dioceses in the state: Gaylord, Lansing, Marquette, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Kalamazoo, and Detroit.

"The Archdiocese of Detroit cooperated fully with law enforcement officials executing a
search warrant for clergy files today," the Archdiocese  said in an Oct. 3 statement.

The investigation followed the release of the Grand Jury report in Pennsylvania, which detailed decades of clergy sex abuse cases from six of the state's dioceses. Several states, including Michigan, launched their own investigations into clergy sex abuse after the report was published.

The Archdiocese of Detroit stated that it welcomes the investigation as part of its "continuing commitment to transparency and healing."

"We have worked closely with authorities from all six counties within our Archdiocese since 2002, when we shared past case files involving clergy misconduct and committed to turning over all new allegations regardless of when the alleged abuse occurred. We remain committed to protecting everyone - especially children and vulnerable adults - and therefore look forward to working closely with officials to determine if there is more we can do to accomplish this goal," the archdiocese stated.

The Diocese of Saginaw is included in the new investigation despite recently having undergone a local investigation earlier this year, after the diocese and authorities received multiple complaints of sexual misconduct by priests in the diocese.

Police in Saginaw raided the home of Bishop Joseph Cistone and the diocesan chancery and its cathedral rectory in March as part of the local investigation, citing a lack of cooperation with authorities on the part of the diocese. Two priests were placed on leave from their duties during that investigation; one was criminally charged.

In 2012, Cistone was accused of misleading a grand jury about his compliance in the destruction of documents containing the names of priests suspected of child molestation in 1994, while he was serving as a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Cistone was not criminally charged in the incident. In February, Cistone announced that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

In an Oct. 3 statement, the Diocese of Saginaw emphasized their willingness to cooperate in the new investigation.

"The Diocese of Saginaw continues to cooperate with the Michigan Attorney General's statewide investigation," the statement said.

"We are thankful for the professionalism with which the warrant was executed, today, as well as the acknowledgment by the attorney general's office of our desire to cooperate. Our cooperation, the attorney general's office said, is appreciated. The Diocese is grateful for the work of law enforcement, and will continue to cooperate fully and meet all requests."

The Saginaw diocese added that it hoped the new investigation will be another step toward healing for all survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

In a statement given to local media in September, Schuette's office said that the investigation will cover accusations of "sexual abuse and assault of children and others by Catholic priests," including priests from religious orders, in Michigan. The the investigation will cover a period of nearly 70 years, from 1950 until the present.

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