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Mid-Michigan Clergy Sex Abuse Cases Come to Light

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Allegations of sexual abuse have prompted the Catholic Diocese of Lansing to acknowledge that up to six men have been molested by a now-deceased Laingsburg priest. The conduct of Rev. John Martin, who was the priest at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Laingsburg, Michigan, from 1941 to 1966, was initially described by two victims. The revelation prompted the church to suspect that other victims were involved, and anyone with information was asked to come forward.

The abuse occurred in the 1950s and 1960s and the victims, now in their 60s and 70s, were in their teens at the time. Rev. Martin served at four other churches during his tenure as a priest, during which time he was active in the community and coached various sports. Martin died in 1968.

While the church claims it is not aware of other victims, it is nearly certain that others in the Mid-Michigan area have been abused by clergy members.

Michigan law is exceedingly unfavorable to the victims of childhood sex abuse. Many victims involuntarily repress all memories of the criminal conduct, only to recall the abuse much later in life. To date, courts have refused to recognize an exception to the statute of limitation in these cases. While there is a bill pending in the legislature, most experts agree that it is unlikely to be considered in the near future.