Michigan: Five Catholic priests in Michigan out of which one priest was from Kerala, have been charged with 21 counts of criminal sexual conduct, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Friday.
An investigation into alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priests dating back to 1950 in Michigan’s seven Catholic dioceses was opened in August of last year.
Members of the Attorney General’s clergy abuse investigative team have been working to review 450 tips and hundreds of thousands of pages of documents seized during raids in Michigan’s seven Catholic dioceses in 2018.
Fr Jacob Vellian, 84, Kalamazoo Diocese, was charged with two counts of rape, a maximum sentence of life in prison. Vellian was a priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish, Benton Harbor, and now lives in Kerala, India.
“Some of these clergy preyed on young children,” Nessel said at a news conference about the men who were priests at the time of the alleged abuse. She said the five cases were the “tip of the iceberg” as investigators continue to track down hundreds of tips on abuse by Catholic priests.
In some of the incidents, the priests mixed their sexual activity with references to Catholic beliefs or committed the acts during Catholic rituals such as confession, according to allegations in affidavits.
Nessel said the priests are suspected of abusing five individuals, for who were were underage. Four of the victims are male, and one is female, according to court documents provided to reporters.