Clergy Sex Abuse Victim Reaches Settlement
At the outset, we should all show our appreciation to a brave, smart, and persistent victim. He is brave because it is not easy for those who have been molested to report such unspeakable crimes. He is smart because he didn’t go it alone and sought independent help from a lawyer. And he is persistent because I was at least the third or fourth lawyer who looked at his facts. He was told by others that, in Michigan, “even if true, you can’t hold the church accountable because of Michigan’s anti-victim laws that shield pedophile priests, scout masters, and the like.”
But this victim is a friend of mine as well as a client. I believed him and, while I told him “I can’t make you better, I can’t undo what has been done to you, and I can’t do to the priest what he did to you,” we can try against odds to get you compensation. And we did receive a significant settlement.
While no amount of money can restore the shattered trust, stolen from childhood, a settlement of this type is a clear signal of a recognition of such a crippling and devastating betrayal.
During a very recent disclosure by the Lansing Diocese, Bishop Boyea asked “if there are other victims, we wish for them to come forward.” Here we are.
My client identified Monsignor John Slowey as a predator almost a year ago to the Diocese. I believe they found my client credible. This crime occurred at St. Vincent Orphanage in Lansing between June of 1954 and March of 1955, when the victim was 5 or 6 years old. I am unaware of the Lansing Diocese taking any steps to alert others as they apparently did with Reverend Martin in Laingsburg.
It seems unlikely to me that my client would be Slowey’s only victim. The pattern that has emerged in other jurisdictions seems to suggest that these predators are repeat offenders. If there are others who have been hurt at St. Vincent Orphanage or in different locations where Fr. Slowey was moved around to by the Diocese, I hope they will find the courage to follow this man’s lead and step forward. I would urge them to call on other resources of support – loved ones, therapists, police, prosecutors, and trial lawyers – to help. There are also well-established advocacy groups to help. One reason thousands of predator priests have been able to victimize so many children is because these crimes were often reported to the church and not independent sources.
Thank you for taking this issue so seriously. Perhaps some day my client will be ready to meet with and talk to the media, but at this time I would ask that you respect his privacy as he deals with these issues at his own pace.
Again, thank you.