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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Michigan priest has been officially vindicated after a detective who falsely accused him of rape has agreed to pay him damages awards.
On Friday, Sgt. Det. Nancy LePage of the Macomb County Sheriff's Department agreed to pay $125,000 to Detroit priest Fr. Eduard Perrone, one month after a three-person panel unanimously found her guilty of defamation and recommended that she pay damages. Friday was the deadline set by the panel for accepting or rejecting the recommendation.
Now that LePage has accepted the finding of guilt and has agreed to pay the money, it becomes a binding court ruling, formally bringing an end to Perrone's months-long lawsuit for defamation, and officially vindicating him.
"Of course, I am pleased to hear that Ms. LePage has agreed to grant us the award," said Fr. Perrone in comments to Church Militant. "I believe that this acceptance in the judgment of the public is an implicit acknowledgment of malfeasance on her part — no matter how it may be regarded from a strictly legal perspective."
"This is for us a necessary initial success," he added.
Chris Kolomjec, attorney for Perrone, told Church Militant:
For everyone's sake, especially Fr. Perrone and the faithful of his parish and the archbishop and everyone involved, I just hope and pray that the archdiocese takes this opportunity to reinstate Fr. Perrone to full ministry in light of the fact that there's a full settlement involving a detective, Nancy LePage, whose report was presented to the review board and relied upon for Fr. Perrone's removal.
As Church Militant has extensively reported, LePage helped investigate abuse allegations against Perrone, during which she interviewed the accuser, John Doe, and fabricated a sodomy charge against the priest.
Based on LePage's false rape allegation — a charge the accuser, John Doe, has explicitly denied — Abp. Allen Vigneron suspended Perrone from priestly ministry in July 2019.
Vigneron has come under heavy criticism for failing to reinstate Perrone in light of the now-proven false allegation — an allegation that was brought to the archdiocese by Msgr. Michael Bugarin, episcopal vicar and the clergyman tasked with spearheading Perrone's prosecution.
In fact, LePage is Bugarin's parishioner at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in St. Clair Shores, and was specifically tapped by Bugarin to help him conduct the investigation.
Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham has been criticized for failing to discipline or remove LePage in light of her track record of deception, which, in addition to the fabricated rape charge, also includes falsifying witness testimony.
Bugarin and Vigneron are being sued separately by parishioners of Assumption Grotto in Detroit, where Perrone has been longtime pastor, but is now banned from entering church property or even contacting parishioners, on orders of Bugarin.
The lawsuit accuses the archbishop and episcopal vicar of fraud, among other things.
"In many ways, this not only fully vindicates Fr. Perrone, but could also accuse the rash decision to remove Fr. Perrone by the archdiocese," Kolomjec told Church Militant.
Kolomjec is hinting at a possible defamation lawsuit against Bugarin: "If the archdiocese refuses to reinstate Fr. Perrone, there are many on the legal team who are pushing Fr. Perrone to re-evaluate Msgr. Bugarin's actions in light of the settlement."
Perrone clarified, "Whatever our next moves may be towards rehabilitating my injured name and correcting the manifest injustice for the rashly imposed restrictions on the exercise of my priesthood remains to be considered."
"I am truly grateful to my excellent counselors and to all those who by their prayers and offerings have brought me to this happy outcome," he added.
Perrone Defense Fund
c/o Harry Wisniewski
P.O. Box 165
St. Clair Shores, MI 48080