Ex-Benton Harbor Priest Accused Of Sexual Abuse

May 24, 2019

A 2012 file photo shows a silhouette of a crucifix and a stained glass window inside a Catholic Church in New Orleans
Credit Gerald Herbert / AP Photo

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has charged five men with committing sexual abuse while they were Catholic priests. They face 21 charges of criminal sexual conduct. The announcement is part of Nessel’s ongoing investigation into all seven Catholic dioceses in Michigan.

Nessel said last February that the investigation could take two years to complete.

"This really is just the tip of the iceberg and our work continues day in and day out as we seek justice for the hundreds, perhaps even thousands of victims of clergy abuse in our state.”

Four of the men charges have been arrested. The fifth, 84-year-old Jacob Vellian, is awaiting extradition from India. He served as a parish priest in Benton Harbor, which is part of the Kalamazoo Diocese. It says Vellian served for one year in Benton Harbor in the 1970's as a visiting priest from the Archeparchy of Kottayam and the Syro-Malabar Church in India.

The others charged are 69-year-old Timothy Michael Crowley and Vincent DeLorenzo, 80, of the Lansing Diocese, and Neil Kalina, 63, and 55-year-old Patrick Casey of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Nessel's office also says the counseling license of a sixth priest in the Detroit Archdiocese has been suspended by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and he faces an administrative complaint.