01-02-2020 My View from the Capitol; Seven priests charged in clergy abuse cases in 2019; State A.G.

Looking ahead toward 2020

In 2019, Congress faced its share of challenges – that’s for certain. And as we look ahead toward 2020, we will have our plates full with unfinished business. As I mentioned last week, Cures 2.0 will be a priority for mine. This legislation will be the second effort of our historic 21st Century Cures bill. Whereas our first effort looked to speed up how we develop life-saving cures, Cures 2.0 will work on making sure these life-saving cures are more accessible to the American people. We also need to work on making prescription drug costs more affordable for all. In December, we introduced H.R. 19, legislation that includes several bipartisan provisions aimed at lowering out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and protecting innovation. And because it is bipartisan, I am confident it could pass both the House and Senate and become law quickly. Our patients need help now. In 2020, we also have to do a better job of working together. We need to tone down the inflammatory rhetoric. We need to renew respect for each other’s perspectives. The challenges we face are too great to try and solve while divided. We are Americans first, and it’s time for us to come together to tackle the issues that matter to the American people. To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or visit my website: upton.house.gov. You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Seven priests charged in clergy abuse cases in 2019; State A.G. says more to come

(Press Release) As the year draws to a close, Attorney General Dana Nessel shared an update on the clergy abuse investigation her office took over from former Attorney General Bill Schuette. “Our office has made considerable progress in this investigation,” Nessel said. “I am extremely proud of the work we have completed so far and am confident our office will continue to investigate these cases as thoroughly as possible to provide justice for victims. We fully expect several more charges will be announced – some as early as January.” Since the beginning of the investigation, more than 640 tips have been received. Based on the paper document review of only three dioceses to date – Marquette, Gaylord and Grand Rapids – the clergy abuse investigation team has already identified 552 victims who have named 270 priests as abusers. The Attorney General is estimating that at the close of the investigation there will be thousands of victims. The department has hired a victim advocate specifically to assist those who have been impacted by clergy abuse. At this time, there are 130 cases being investigated or reviewed for potential charges. Of those cases, around 50 cases have been closed based on the Statute of Limitations or the deaths of the priests involved; 45 cases are actively being investigated; 25 cases have been referred back to the Diocese for other action. So far, seven cases have been charged to date with more to follow after the first of the year. Of these seven cases, two priests – Patrick Casey and Brian Stanley – have already pleaded guilty. Additionally, 43 law enforcement officers and officials dedicated 664 hours to training in sexual assault investigations to provide comprehensive assistance to victims in the future. The Department of the Attorney General seized 1.5 million paper documents and 3.5 million electronic documents through search warrants executed in October 2018. Thirty-two volunteers have since dedicated 1,400 hours – solely on nights and weekends – to evaluate this evidence. To aid with the review of this evidence, $345,000 has been spent on managing the electronic documents. The status of the seven priests charged to date in the investigation is as follows: Joseph Baker – Trial begins February 20, 2020 in Wayne County Circuit Court. The Defendant is out on bond with a tether. Patrick Casey – Pleaded guilty to aggravated assault on October 8, 2019. Sentenced November 20, 2019 to 45 days in jail, one year of probation and is required to attend sex offender counseling. Timothy Crowley – The case was dismissed in Washtenaw County District Court. The Department of Attorney General filed an appeal December 10, 2019. Vincent DeLorenzo – This case has been reassigned to Judge Christopher Odette. A preliminary exam is yet to be scheduled in Genesee County District Court. Defendant is out on bond. Neil Kalina – A preliminary exam has now been adjourned until January 28, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. in Macomb County District Court. Bond was reduced by 50 percent by Judge Douglas Shepherd to $50,000 cash surety or 10 percent, with a tether. The defendant remains in Macomb County Jail. Brian Stanley – Pleaded guilty to one felony count of Attempted False Imprisonment; faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for January 27, 2020. Jacob Vellian – Status unchanged.

Time for some New Year’s financial resolutions