Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel delivered a stern message to Catholic churches in Michigan: The era of hiding sexual misconduct is over.
"We can, and will, follow the abuse where it's occurred," Nessel said during her first press conference Thursday. "Our team has seized, and is now continuing to review, hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, including procedures for receiving and investigating allegations of abuse by the church."
Since Michigan launched an investigation into Catholic abuse in August 2018 under her predecessor, Bill Schuette, Nessel said law enforcement received more than 300 tips of alleged sexual abuse. She estimates as many as 1,000 victims will come forward.
Michigan is among at least 44 states that have opened investigations into alleged misconduct in the Catholic church after Pennsylvania's landmark state grand jury probe
uncovered more than 300 "predator" priests accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 victims in a span of six decades.
In October, law enforcement raided all seven Michigan dioceses, becoming one of the first states to execute statewide warrants.
Nessel said the time has come for Catholic churches to stop "self-policing" allegations of sexual abuse by clergy.
The Attorney General's office has set up a clergy abuse hotline – (844)-324-3374 – and an online form for tips at mi.gov/clergyabuse
"We're strongly urging victims, or anyone who knows a victim, to contact the state's team of certified law enforcement investigators by calling this number."
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