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Clergy investigation hits 2-year mark

LANSING — Millions of documents have been reviewed and 11 men have been or are being prosecuted by Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office since authorities executed search warrants two years ago on all seven of Michigan’s Catholic dioceses as part of the state’s investigation into clergy abuse.

Two cases are being prosecuted in the Upper Peninsula.

— Gary Jacobs, a priest at parishes in Ewen and Iron Mountain, faces a total of 10 criminal sexual conduct charges in five cases stemming from incidents that occurred in the 1980s. He was arrested in January in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Jacobs has been bound over for trial and a Walker Hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6. A Walker hearing takes place before a trial and allows the judge to determine whether a statement was voluntarily made — and thus can be used as evidence in the trial — or not.

— Roy Joseph, a priest in Marquette, was charged in Marquette County with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. His extradition from India is in progress. The incident reportedly occurred on or about Feb. 21, 2006, while Joseph served as a priest in Marquette County.

Forty-two Michigan State Police troopers, five officers from different law enforcement agencies and 15 special agents from the Attorney General’s office executed search warrants on Oct. 3, 2018, at Michigan’s seven dioceses. In that effort, they seized 220 boxes of paper documents and more than 3.5 million digital documents.

Due to a slowdown in court operations as a result of COVID-19, no charged cases have been resolved through plea deals or trial since late 2019. However, the review of documents has continued along with other steps to further the investigation.

Through the department’s review of paper documents alone, 454 accused priests and 811 reported victims have been identified, Nessel said. That number may change as investigatory efforts continue.

In addition to the paper and digital documents seized from the dioceses, information is also received through the Attorney General’s clergy abuse tip line: 1-844-324-3374. That has generated 750 tips related to abuse, leading to 112 police investigations, 180 victim interviews and 285 police reports.

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