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Regarding abuse claims against a Detroit priest and others who served in southeast Michigan

The Archdiocese of Detroit Communications Department shares the following statement in response to abuse claims made against a Detroit priest, other clergy members and a lay person who served in southeast Michigan:

Fr. Lawrence Tannous Fares

The Archdiocese of Detroit was made aware Tuesday, July 30 of an allegation of child sexual abuse against Fr. Lawrence Tannous Fares, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit. We have no prior record of any allegation having been made against him.

We are always deeply grieved to learn about any allegations of clergy abuse, especially involving minors or vulnerable adults, and we do everything in our power to provide assistance to victims. Had this allegation been shared with the archdiocese in 2010, it would have been examined by our Review Board, and if deemed a substantive allegation (that is, having a semblance of truth), Fr. Fares’ ministry would have been restricted at that time. At this point, we will adhere to our practice of looking to local law enforcement and the Attorney General’s Office as to how to proceed.

Individuals with knowledge of sexual abuse by clergy or other Church representatives are urged to contact local law enforcement and/or the Attorney General’s Office at (844) 324-3374 or [email protected]. Individuals may also share the report with the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Victim Assistance Coordinator at (866) 343-8055 or [email protected].

Fr. William Cahill, S.J.

Fr. William B. Cahill was a religious order priest with the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) religious order who served as chaplain of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Mount Clemens from 1972 to 1977. He died in 1986. His name was added to the Archdiocese of Detroit’s list of clergy credibly accused of abuse on January 16, 2019, following the Society’s release of names of their clergy credibly accused of abuse. As with all religious order priests, Fr. Cahill’s case was received, investigated and deemed a substantive allegation (that is, having a semblance of truth), by his religious order.

Fr. Dennis Mitchell, C.S.P.

Fr. John Dennis Mitchell was ordained in 1938 for the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle (Paulist Fathers) and served from 1942-43 in campus ministry at Wayne State University in Detroit. He died in 1996. According to the Paulist Fathers, the abuse was alleged to have occurred in 1968 in Los Angeles and was reported in 1994. As with all religious order priests, Fr. Mitchell’s case was received, investigated and deemed a substantive allegation (that is, having a semblance of truth), by his religious order. The Archdiocese of Detroit has no record of any local allegations against him.

The Archdiocese of Detroit is working with the various religious orders in the area to ensure our list of clergy accused of abuse is as complete and accurate as possible. As this process continues, we will move to add Fr. Dennis Mitchell’s name to our list. Our list is continually updated as we receive new information from law enforcement, religious orders and members of the public.

Patricia Kulwicki

Ms. Patricia Kulwicki was a lay employee of Mercy High School in Farmington Hills for 19 years. She was not a Sister of Mercy, but left another religious order in 1973. She died in 1994. Allegations brought to the Archdiocese of Detroit involving religious order schools are turned over to the religious order for review.

Opus Bono Sacerdotii

The Archdiocese of Detroit reaffirms what previously was shared with the Associated Press: Opus Bono Sacerdotii has never been affiliated with or supported by the Archdiocese of Detroit. What follows is the full statement we provided the reporter in June:

Archbishop Vigneron and his predecessor, Cardinal Adam Maida, understood the initiative to be an independent group of Catholic faithful laypersons committed to working with priests accused of clerical sexual abuse, principally by offering financial assistance. From its inception, the Archdiocese of Detroit considered OBS a de facto association; it did not manage, review, or financially support its operations. And anyone affiliated with OBS would do so of their own choosing and on their own time.

Like they might do for any other autonomous Catholic organizations based in southeast Michigan, Church leadership and other members of the clergy did, on occasion, acknowledge the group’s work and appear in photos with members of OBS.

In 2018, Michigan’s Attorney General cited OBS for “… a lack of board governance, no controls over expenses, unauthorized and excessive compensation, diversion of assets, breach of fiduciary duties, and deceptive solicitations.” As reported at that time, the Archdiocese had no oversight or official connection to OBS or its board. Members on that board were never appointed or approved by the Archdiocese.


Regarding Reverend Anthony Cipolla

The accusations against Fr. Anthony Cipolla, born in 1943 and a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, include an incident in Dearborn.  That allegation was reported to Pittsburgh police and the Pittsburgh diocese. There is no record the incident was reported to the Detroit archdiocese or that the alleged abuse was reported to Dearborn police. Restricted in his ministry in 1988, Cipolla died in 2016.  He is listed on the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report on page 620.  

Regarding Reverend Ronald Yarrosh, PIME

A religious order priest with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), he was based in Detroit from 1977-81 and, on occasion, returned to the Archdiocese of Detroit archdiocese from 1982-2004.  Born in 1947 and incardinated into the Allentown diocese in 1990, Yarrosh was arrested on child pornography charges in 2004 and laicized (removed from the clerical state) in 2007.  No allegations against him were brought to the Detroit archdiocese. He is listed on the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report on page 18.  




Regarding Reverend Robert Spangenberg, C.S.Sp

A religious order priest with the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Fr. Robert Spangenberg served briefly at Old St. Mary’s Parish in Greektown from July 1975 until December of 1975, when he was reassigned to a parish in Pittsburgh diocese. No allegations against him were brought to the Archdiocese of Detroit. Born in 1947, he died in 2006. He is listed on the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report on page 769.    



Regarding Reverend Richard T. Brown

Investigators from the Dallas, Texas police department recently contacted archdiocesan officials regarding Father Richard T. Brown.  Fr. Brown, born in 1941 and a priest of the Dallas diocese, had been in Detroit circa 1997-2002.  The information received from Texas was shared by the Archdiocese of Detroit with local law enforcement and the Michigan’s Attorney General’s Office.  The Dallas diocese lists Fr. Brown’s status as “absent on leave,” and says his priestly/public ministry was restricted in 2002.

There is an ongoing investigation in Dallas of Fr. Brown involving an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.  The archdiocese has come to learn that Fr. Brown, during his time in Michigan, assisted with sacramental and Mass duties at Assumption Grotto parish in Detroit.  The Detroit archdiocese has been fully cooperative with authorities in Texas;  it continues to learn more about details involved in this case. 

Individuals with knowledge of sexual abuse by clergy or other Church representatives are urged to contact local law enforcement and/or the Michigan Attorney General’s Office at (844) 324-3374 or [email protected].  Individuals also may contact the Archdiocese of Detroit by visiting protect.aod.org or by calling the 24/7 victim assistance line at (866) 343-8055 or by emailing [email protected]. There are no time limits or restrictions on individuals wishing to report abuse.  To contact the Dallas police department visit their TipSubmit online portal or call (214) 671-4301.

Coverage of Fr. Brown’s case as first reported in 1997 and 2002 by the Dallas Morning News

Regarding Reverend Eduard Perrone

Effective July 5, 2019, Father Eduard Perrone, 70, has been temporarily restricted from any public ministry due to a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor pending a Church process. In addition, his name will be added to the Archdiocese of Detroit’s website protect.aod.org.

FatherEduardPerroneThe Archdiocese of Detroit reported the allegation – from the earlier years of Father Perrone’s ministry – to Macomb County law enforcement and its findings were provided to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. The Archdiocese of Detroit recently was informed by the Attorney General’s Office that it could proceed with its canonical (Church law) review. The Archdiocesan Review Board subsequently deemed the complaint to be credible, meaning it has a “semblance of truth.” A further determination on the matter now falls to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which reviews all cases involving the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by clergy. Under Church law, much like in civil law, there is a presumption of innocence during this process.
 
While restricted from ministry, Father Perrone is prohibited from representing himself as a priest, wearing clerical attire or exercising any form of Church ministry. Like any cleric restricted from ministry in the Archdiocese of Detroit, he is monitored to ensure compliance with Church restrictions.
 
Monsignor Ronald Browne has been named temporary administrator of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Grotto) Parish, where Father Perrone is currently assigned as pastor.
 
Individuals with knowledge of sexual abuse by clergy or other Church representatives are urged to contact local law enforcement and/or the Michigan Attorney General’s Office at (844) 324-3374 or [email protected]. Individuals also may contact the Archdiocese of Detroit by visiting protect.aod.org or by calling the 24/7 victim assistance line at (866) 343-8055 or by emailing [email protected]. There are no time limits or restrictions on individuals wishing to report abuse.
 
Biographical Information:

  • Education: Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit, MI; St. John’s Provincial Seminary, Plymouth, MI
  • Ordained: June 10, 1978

Assignment History:

  • 1978-1981: Associate Pastor, St. Peter Parish, Mt. Clemens
  • 1981-1984: Associate Pastor, St. Genevieve Parish, Livonia
  • 1984-1987: Associate Pastor, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Grotto) Parish, Detroit
  • 1987-1994: Pastor, St. Nicholas Parish, Capac
  • 1994 - present: Pastor, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Grotto) Parish, Detroit

Archbishop Vigneron statement regarding pro-life petitions preparing to circulate in Michigan

The Department of Communications of the Archdiocese of Detroit shares Archbishop Vigneron's comments on two citizen initiative petition drives set to take place in Michigan that would have an impact on pro-life policy in the state. The drive announced Wednesday, June 26 in Lansing, organized by Right to Life of Michigan, would prohibit dilation and evacuation abortion procedures, also known as “dismemberment abortion.” A second proposal seeks to prohibit abortion after cardiac activity is detected in the developing child. The Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) Board of Directors, with Archbishop Vigneron as its chair, is in full support of the dismemberment abortion petition drive, and has expressed reservations about the heartbeat petition. Archbishop Vigneron’s comments are as follows:

“The Catholic Church in Michigan lends her support to sound and reasonable public policies, especially those which protect the most innocent among us. I invite all people of goodwill, regardless of religious or political affiliation, to join the citizen initiative effort to prohibit the heinous dilation and evacuation abortion procedure that requires the dismemberment of a human child in the womb. While the proposal advanced by the “heartbeat” coalition shares the goal of ending abortion, it appears to raise the possibility of negatively impacting existing law in Michigan that protects all unborn human life, which only lies dormant due to the Roe v. Wade decision. As these petition drives move forward, I applaud those who continue to change hearts and minds by invoking the humanity, dignity and rights of the unborn child while at the same time being close to and offering unyielding support for women who may find themselves in a challenging or crisis pregnancy.”

Regarding Reverend Joseph (Jack) Baker

The Archdiocese of Detroit recently received an allegation against Rev. Joseph (Jack) H. Baker involving sexual abuse of a minor. The allegation dates back to the earlier years of his ministry.

RevJosephJackBakerThis allegation immediately was reported to the Office of the Michigan Attorney General. The Archdiocese of Detroit now has been informed by the Attorney General’s Office that it should proceed with the appropriate actions prescribed by Canon (or Church) Law. Effective June 19, in accord with the norms of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, also known as the Dallas Charter, Father Baker, 57, has been restricted from all public ministry pending the outcome of the canonical process. Under Church law, much like in civil law, there is a presumption of innocence during the process.

While restricted from ministry, Father Baker is prohibited from representing himself as a priest, wearing clerical attire or exercising any form of Church ministry. Like any cleric restricted from ministry in the Archdiocese of Detroit, he is monitored to ensure compliance with Church restrictions.

Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit Gerard Battersby has been named temporary administrator of St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford Township, where Father Baker was assigned as pastor.

Individuals with knowledge of sexual abuse by clergy or other Church representatives are urged to contact local law enforcement and/or the Michigan Attorney General’s Office at (844) 324-3374 or [email protected]. Individuals also may contact the Archdiocese of Detroit by visiting protect.aod.org calling the toll-free, 24/7 victim assistance line at (866) 343-8055 or by emailing [email protected]. There are no time limits or restrictions on individuals wishing to report abuse.

Biographical Information:

  • Education: Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI; Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI
  • Ordained: 1993

Assignment History:

  • 1993-1996: Associate Pastor, St. Hugo of the Hills Parish, Bloomfield Hills
  • 1996-1997: Associate Pastor, Sacred Heart Parish, Dearborn
  • 1996-1997: Campus Minister, Wayne State Medical School Campus Ministry, Detroit
  • 1997-2008: Pastor, St. Mary Parish, Wayne
  • 2003-2004: Administrators, SS. Kevin and Norbert Parish, Inkster
  • 2003-2008: Administrator, Holy Family Parish, Inkster
  • 2011: Administrator: St. Benedict Parish, Waterford
  • 2008-present: Pastor, St. Perpetua Parish, Waterford

Reverend Peter Etzel, S.J.

Reverend Peter Etzel, S.J. with the concurrence of his Superior, Very Reverend Brian G. Paulson, S.J., Provincial, appointed Associate Pastor of Gesu Parish, Detroit, effective July 1, 2019.  Fr. Etzel is currently serving as Pastor of Gesu Parish, Detroit.

Reverend Phillip Cooke, S.J.

Reverend Phillip Cooke, S.J. with the concurrence of his Superior, Very Reverend Brian G. Paulson, S.J., Provincial, appointed Pastor of Gesu Parish, Detroit, effective July 1, 2019.  Fr. Cooke is currently serving as Associate Pastor of Gesu Parish, Detroit.