Watch Evening News weeknights at 6:30 p.m. ET.
DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - New court documents reveal a police detective working closely with the archdiocese of Detroit expressed wishes to beat Fr. Eduard Perrone "into the ground," while Msgr. Michael Bugarin, appointed by Abp. Allen Vigneron to lead the investigation, laughs approvingly.
"We'll turn the cameras off and shut the recorder off," said Det. Sgt. Nancy LePage during a July 2, 2019 interview with John Doe, who last year accused Fr. Perrone of abuse based on a 40-year-old "repressed" memory. "But if I was you [name redacted], I'd be beating him into the ground. That's just being honest. It's just true honesty."
Bugarin, episcopal vicar for the archdiocese of Detroit, chosen by Vigneron to spearhead the investigation, expresses approval and even encourages LePage to "turn the cameras off" for the physical assault, according to the transcript.
"Yep," says Bugarin, laughing. "We'll turn the cameras off."
Bugarin and LePage — who works for the Macomb County Sheriff's Department and was tapped by Bugarin, her pastor, to help in the investigation — have also been caught fabricating a rape charge against Perrone.
The potentially illegal conduct led a group of parishioners from Assumption Grotto, Perrone's parish, to file a historic lawsuit against Abp. Vigneron and Msgr. Bugarin accusing them of fraud.
"John Doe refused to give Bugarin what he wanted, so Bugarin just fabricated a rape allegation out of desperation and wishful thinking," the complaint reads.
Vigneron, who is vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is being sued for failing to put a stop to Bugarin, who serves at the good pleasure of the archbishop.
The lawsuit confirms that John Doe even called up Bugarin, after reading Church Militant's Nov. 25 report titled "Detroit Archdiocese Engaged in Witness Manipulation," to remind Bugarin "that he never said he was sodomized."
John Doe only learned of Bugarin's rape allegation — the basis on which the archdiocesan review board suspended Perrone — from reading Church Militant's report.
The full exchange with LePage, Bugarin and John Doe follows:
Nancy LePage: Doesn't it feel good?
John Doe: [inaudible]
Nancy LePage: Yeah it does. I can see it in your face. When we went from six to one, you lit up like a Christmas tree.
Msgr. Michael Bugarin: Yep.
Nancy LePage: As far as the illegal stuff goes…
Msgr. Michael Bugarin: [laughter] We'll turn the cameras off.
Nancy LePage: We'll turn the cameras off and shut the recorder off. But if I was you [name redacted], I'd be beating him into the ground. That's just being honest. It's just true honesty.
This portion, which lasts approximately 30 seconds, was omitted from the transcript of the July 2 interview submitted to Perrone's attorneys last fall, and was not discovered until his attorneys recently listened to a recording of the full interview. The archdiocese failed to explain why this portion was omitted from the transcript.
LePage is being sued in a separate lawsuit by Perrone for her complicity in fabricating the sodomy charge against him.
Records show LePage interviewed John Doe for the first time on Aug. 27, 2018, failing to record the interview and destroying her notes afterward. In fact, LePage consistently violated protocol in all her dealings with the accuser, failing to record her calls and shredding her notes.
"Contrary to the procedures set forth in the Michigan Model Policy: The Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault for Adults and Young Adults ('Model Policy'), LePage did not record this or any other interview with John Doe," the Grotto parishioners' complaint reads. "She also shredded all of the notes she took of any interview conducted in connection with her investigation."
After an initial interview with John Doe didn't net the desired results, LePage and Bugarin called the accuser in for a second interview on June 27, 2019.
"Bugarin and LePage were concerned that not making a public display of doing 'something' may bring a harsh glare of negative publicity that attends every allegation of clergy sex abuse, credible or not," the complaint notes. "If John Doe could be intimidated and manipulated into saying something salacious, Bugarin could satisfy the Review Board's concerns, trigger the removal of Fr. Perrone and get ahead of the imminent AP story and the attendant publicity."
LePage was also accused by a former altar boy of deceptively altering his testimony in order to incriminate Fr. Perrone.
Repeated queries to Sheriff Anthony M. Wickersham of the Macomb County Sheriff's Office have gone ignored with regard to LePage's status and whether any disciplinary measures are being taken to address her conduct.
Contact information for Macomb County Sheriff:
Anthony M. Wickersham
Phone: (586) 469-5151
Perrone Defense Fund
c/o Harry Wisniewski
P.O. Box 165
St. Clair Shores, MI 48080