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State investigation finds abuse allegations against dozens of priests in Diocese of Marquette dating back decades

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Steve Carmody
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Michigan Radio
(file photo)

A new report by the Michigan attorney general’s office identifies dozens of abuse allegations against Catholic priests in the Upper Peninsula.

The report is part of an ongoing state investigation into allegations of sexual abuse involving Catholic priests. In this case, the data stems from a search warrant served on the Diocese of Marquette in 2018 and additional tips.

The report identifies 44 priests for which there were allegations of sexual misconduct against either children or adults since January of 1950. 32 of the priests are known or presumed to be dead. Of the 12 others, two are still involved in active ministry.

Bishop John Doerfler apologized to the victims at a news conference Thursday, saying “words fall short.”

“Even though almost all the abuse in our diocese occurred decades ago, the wounds run very deep and many people are still suffering today,” said Doerfler.

Since the state investigation began, 11 priests have been criminal charged, including two with ties to the Marquette Diocese.

“The Department of Attorney General is committed to ensuring that every case of sexual abuse and assault is thoroughly reviewed and that whenever we are able to pursue justice we do so relentlessly and aggressively,” said Dana Nessel, Michigan Attorney General.

Nessel notes the Diocese of Marquette worked in partnership with the Department of Attorney General to pass along reports of allegations.

However, there is one name in the list that Bishop Doerfler suggests should not be.

The report details an allegation against Fr. Mark McQuestern, dating back to 1986 or '87. He is one of two priests named in the report who remain in active ministry, despite being retired.

Bishop Doerfler says the allegation against McQuestern is “not a credible allegation.”

The bishop says the diocese used an investigator with a background in law enforcement, who found the allegation not to be creditable. He says an independent review board, primarily composed of Catholic lay people, also found the allegation not to be credible.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.