Five Catholic priests in Michigan have been charged with 21 counts of criminal sexual conduct after sexually abusing multiple children—one as young as five years old—and an adult at their affiliated churches, according to court records.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said at a Friday morning press conference in Lansing, after four of the men were arrested. “This is about taking on large-scale institutions that turn a blind eye to victims and making certain we hold all of them accountable—that includes unapologetically pursuing any and all individuals who abuse their power by victimizing our residents.”
Timothy Michael Crowley, 69, was charged with eight counts of criminal sexual conduct after he forced an alter boy under the age of 16 years old to watch him masturbate and engage in other sexual activities, then threatened to kill him if he told anyone, a criminal complaint alleges.
He was a priest in various parishes, including at St. Thomas Rectory in Ann Arbor, according to a press release. Crowley was arrested on Thursday and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Neil Kalina, 63, was charged with four counts of criminal sexual conduct after he allegedly forced a 12-year-old boy to, over the span of two years, engage in various sexual activity. Kalina allegedly provided the boy with cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol, according to an arrest affidavit. He was a priest at St. Kiernan Catholic Church in Shelby Township and, after being arrested on Thursday, faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Vincent DeLorenzo, an 80-year-old priest at Holy Redeemer Church in Burton, was also arrested Thursday and charged with six counts of criminal sexual conduct after he allegedly molested a five-year-old boy who attended his church multiple times, an arrest affidavit states. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Patrick Casey, 55, was charged with one count of criminal sexual conduct for allegedly abusing a 24-year-old man who came to him with suicidal thoughts. He was a priest at St. Theodore of Canterbury Parish in Westland and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison after his arrest on Thursday.
A formal investigation of the abuse by the Archdiocese found that Casey’s behavior was “predatory” and that he “took advantage of someone who was vulnerable,” according to a criminal complaint.
Jacob Vellian, 84, was charged with two counts of rape after he allegedly assaulted a 15-year-old parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Benton Harbor who was serving as a volunteer to another priest.
He claimed during the assaults, according to a criminal complaint, that he was “trying to fill [her] soul with the Holy Spirit.” He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and is waiting to be extradited from Kerala, India.
Nessel said that most of the allegations were discovered through the state’s tip line and then corroborated by files seized at the dioceses last fall.