Investigation Results in Criminal Conviction of Priest Accused of Sexual Assault
The Detroit News reported on October 8, 2019, that a Michigan priest pleaded guilty to aggravated assault following a probe into clergy sexual abuse by the State’s Attorney General Dana Nessel. The inquiry resulted in several priests being arrested and charged with crimes.
Reverend Patrick Casey is the first of the group to be convicted. After the start of his trial, in which he faced charges of third-degree criminal sexual misconduct, Casey decided to plead guilty aggravated assault, a lesser charge.
Casey’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 20, 2019. According to the Attorney General’s office, Casey can receive a sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Detroit Archdiocese Acted Quickly to Remove Priest from Duty After Abuse Allegations
Across the country, individuals who were sexually abused by priests and other clergy were also victims of a web of secrecy. Many victims have endured decades of denial and deception by the churches and institutions to which they belonged.
Unlike some other clergy sexual abuse cases, in this particular instance, after the victim reported the incident in 2015, the Archdiocese of Detroit acted immediately. Casey allegedly admitted to engaging in sexual acts with a 24-year-old man who came to him for counseling in 2013. The Archdiocese removed Casey from ministry right away. The Detroit News reported that “Casey, had been barred from representing himself as a priest or conducting any sort of church ministry, according to the Archdiocese.”
Pursuing Clergy Sexual Abusers Helps Victims Heal
During the last year, thousands of victims of sexual abuse have had the opportunity to file civil lawsuits, and in some cases, criminal charges against their attackers and the churches that protected them. Many states have extended the statutes of limitations to give additional time for victims to come forward. The damage from sexual abuse is so severe that it often takes years to confront. When the victims are young, it can take decades.
SNAP, an advocacy group with the full name, The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told the Detroit News, “We are very grateful to the brave victim in this case and to the law enforcement professionals who pursued it. We hope that others who were abused in Michigan, whether by Fr. Casey or others, will come forward, make a report to police, and start healing.”
Commitment to Pursuing Sexual Abusers is Strong
The state of Michigan appears genuinely committed to pursuing justice for the many victims of clergy sexual abuse. While victims across the nation are seeking compensation from the various victim’s funds and filing civil lawsuits, Casey’s guilty conviction has special significance. As Nessel said in a statement, “While this is the first conviction resulting from our investigation, I can assure you it is still only the beginning of an aggressive pursuit of justice for all those who have been victimized by priests or members of the clergy. Our department remains committed to bringing an end to an era of abuse that has hidden in plain sight for far too long.”
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