"If an investigator comes to your door and asks to speak with you, please ask to see their badge and not their rosary," Nessel said. "Victims may believe that they cannot or should not report abuse to us because the Church is going to handle it. That's simply not true."
She cited reports from victims that they were encouraged to agree to settlements and sign nondisclosure agreements. Those who have signed such agreements have the right to speak to law enforcement, she said. Even if alleged abuse falls beyond the statute of limitations, a report can be useful in other prosecutions.
"We can, and we will, follow the trail of abuse where it's occurred."
First-degree criminal sexual conduct has no statute of limitations for criminal prosecution under state law. All other levels of criminal sexual conduct have a limit of 10 years from the time of the crime or from the time the victim turns 21, whichever comes later.
The attorney general's update drew different reactions.
"We were surprised by some of the statements made this morning," said Candace Neff, communications director for the Gaylord diocese, which pledged continued cooperation and assistance for the investigation.
"We are very grateful for the assistance of the attorney general in this process," Neff said, adding that the diocese has not received a request to cease all internal review processes.
"We hope to receive clarification on this request soon," she said.
Neff said the diocese looks forward to the attorney general's final report and shares the goals of intending "to respond with compassion for victim-survivors, to properly prosecute offenders, to prevent anyone from being abused in the future, and to bring about healing for those who have been harmed in the past."
Col. Joe Gasper, head of the Michigan State Police, said the best agents have been assigned to this "exceptionally complex and complicated" case.
"We have high standards within the Michigan State Police and I can assure you we won't be cutting any corners … and let the citizens of Michigan down," he said, according to Mlive.com. "We take all leads seriously. It's critically important that we hear directly from you when you have information to provide."
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Gasper said that cooperation of Church officials varies from diocese to diocese.
The investigators' clergy abuse hotline is at (1-844-324-3374) and available at the website mi.gov/clergyabuse
Nessel's office has sent letters to every parish in the state asking them to tell parishioners about the investigation.
The Detroit archdiocese noted its support for mandatory sex abuse reporting laws and its education efforts of its mandated reporters. It said it has worked to help parishes publicize the state's sex abuse tip-line.
The archdiocese said it places no time limits on reports of sex abuse of minors by priests, deacons and other personnel. The archdiocese added that the attorney general's office has not asked it to stop internal review processes.
"These internal investigations are required under Church law, and their purpose is to restrict or remove from ministry anyone who has committed sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult," it said.