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Lansing Diocese Reports Abuse By 19

Feb 24, 2004 | AP

Twenty-one allegations of child sexual abuse were lodged against 19 Catholic priests and deacons in the Diocese of Lansing between 1950 and 2002, according to an internal investigation.

Thirteen of those claims have been documented, Lansing Bishop Carl F. Mengeling said in a letter Monday to the diocese's 250,000 Roman Catholics.

The diocese will not release names of those 13, but any with "public knowledge" are among this number, according to Michael D. Diebold, communications director for the diocese. The Citizen Patriot has written about charges against two priests, the Rev. Timothy M. Crowley and the Rev. James F. Rapp.

Four of the initial accusations were deemed false and two others were withdrawn. The diocese paid $473,533 in compensation and care for victims, most of which was paid by insurance, Mengeling wrote.

The diocese had 780 priests and 107 deacons during the audit period. Of the 19 priests and deacons listed in the report, five have died, six are retired, three are on administrative leave, three have been placed on lay status and two were found innocent. The report did not say which of the diocese's 95 parishes experienced clergy abuse.

The Lansing Diocese's audit preceded the release of a nationwide report on child sexual abuse conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. That report, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is to be released Friday.

"The number of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the United States will be disturbing," Mengeling wrote. "Understanding the tragedy of sexual abuse will help protect children in the future."

The approximately one-to-one ratio of clergy to victims in Lansing seems abnormal compared with other U.S. dioceses, according to David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"There are cases in Boston where there are 112 or 120 allegations of a priest," Clohessy told The State News, the Michigan State University student newspaper. "I don't know of a diocese anywhere that doesn't have one notorious, repeat, serial offender."

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