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LANSING, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A diocese in Michigan has released a list of clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing children.
The Catholic diocese of Lansing names 17 priests in the list released on Sept. 27. To compile the list, the diocese looked at clergy from the founding of the diocese in 1937 through to the present.
Bishop Earl Boyea spoke about the list at a press conference on Sept. 27, commenting, "My first response is just, 'I'm sorry.' All I can do is apologize. You know, it happened before my time, but I feel the pain they've experienced, and I can only apologize to them for that."
He expressed hope that the publication of the list would encourage more victims of clerical abuse to come forward.
Of the 17 accused clergy named in the list, 13 are priests of the diocese of Lansing; three are priests from religious orders; and one is a priest ordained in Canada who was accused of abuse while living in the Lansing diocese.
In the press conference, the diocese stated that it is cooperating with the Michigan attorney general's investigation into Catholic clerical sex abuse.
Will Bloomfield, general counsel for the Lansing diocese, said, "We view it as consistent with the Attorney General's investigation. When allegations come to the diocese, we share them with the Attorney General. This release of names may lead to additional individuals coming forward either to us or the Attorney General."
A credible allegation, Bloomfield said, can include a claim that "appears to be true" following review by the bishop and the diocesan review board. He added that credible allegations also include claims that resulted in a "civil settlement" or "a criminal conviction," as well as cases where "the accused admitted" or the priest was laicized or removed from ministry by the bishop.
One reporter noted that the priests named in the list are accused of abusing a total of 73 minors and that 66 of the victims were boys, four were girls and three were children whose gender has not been identified.
Bloomfield explained that some of the sexual abuse claims the diocese sorted through lacked key details, noting, "We don't always have clear information."
Al Kresta of Ave Maria Radio asked Bp. Boyea why there was a "disproportionate number" of male victims as opposed to female victims.
The bishop mentioned there might be a tie-in with the presence of "same-sex attraction" among clergy, but opined that the "main pull" was probably that priest often had easier access to boys.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel approved of the Lansing diocese publishing the list of accused priests, stating, "The Lansing diocese has taken an important step today by publicly sharing information about priests who have been credibly accused of abusing minors. We welcome this transparency by the diocese and will continue to work on our own efforts to pursue justice for the victims of clergy abuse."
Bloomfield noted during the press conference that an external audit of priest files that the Lansing diocese paid for is currently on hold, pending the conclusion of the attorney general's investigation.
Church Militant reported previously on scandals in the Lansing diocese — including sexual misconduct claims against Fr. Patrick Egan and Fr. Mark Inglot.
Egan, originally from the Westminster archdiocese in England, had his faculties removed in September last year. A diocesan statement said it was "due to a credible allegation of inappropriate sexual behavior with an adult male."
Likewise, Inglot was put on a temporary leave of absence last September after "a claim of sexual harassment was made by an adult co-worker," the diocese announced at the time. It later came to light that Inglot was accused of making sexual advances toward a younger priest stationed at the parish with him.
Neither Egan or Inglot is on the Lansing diocese's recently published list, which names those credibly accused of sexually abusing children — not sexual misconduct or harassment towards adults.
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