Victims of sexual abuse from priests are speaking out against the Catholic church in Saginaw, calling for more transparency from church leaders.
It comes on the same day the church’s most senior cleric ever to be convicted of child sexual abuse is heading to prison.
“Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. And that’s essentially what we’re doing here today,” said David Clohessy, leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in St. Louis.
That mission brought him to Saginaw on Wednesday, March 13, pleading for action after discovering what he calls “three credibly accused Saginaw priests” who committed sexual abuse.
“We want to reach out to anybody who may have been hurt by them and encourage the bishop to come clean to come really clean and list all of the child molesting clerics who spent time here,” Clohessy said.
One of those priests Clohessy is referring to is Father Francis Landwermeyer, a former priest and principal at Nouvel Catholic Central in the mid-80s.
Landwermeyer was removed from the ministry in 2010 and died in 2018.
The diocese said before Wednesday, they weren’t aware of the allegations against Landwermeyer. But now they are adding his name to their list of clergy accused of sexually abusing minors.
The diocese issued the following statement:
The Diocese of Saginaw received new information today that Francis M. Landwermeyer, a former Jesuit priest who served as principal of Nouvel Catholic Central High School in Saginaw from 1985-1988, was credibly accused of multiple allegations of sexually abusing minors. He was removed from ministry in 2010 and left the Jesuit order and the priesthood in 2011. He died in 2018. The diocese was unaware of this information until today.
The diocese is not aware of any abuse that took place during Landwermeyer’s time at Nouvel and has no further details at the present time. Landwermeyer’s name will be added to the diocese website of names of clergy accused of sexual abuse of a minor.
We have no new information about any other priests who may have served in the diocese. The office of the Attorney General is in possession of all our clergy files.
We continue to call upon all the faithful of the diocese to pray for healing for all. It is our steadfast and ongoing commitment to safeguard children, and we will not waver in our efforts to ensure the safety of minors and all those entrusted to our care.
Once again, we encourage anyone who has an allegation or information regarding sexual abuse by a priest, including Francis Landwermeyer or other church personnel, to contact the Attorney General’s office at 844-324-3374.
Clohessy said he is not buying it.
“We think the bishop knows about these three and he knows about other child molesting clerics that he’s keeping hidden and that’s just wrong and that’s what puts kids at risk,” Clohessy said.
As a victim of clergy sexual abuse himself, he is hoping the diocese will bring closure to its victims.
“Victims heal in part when there’s an acknowledgement that they were harmed. And victims heal when their perpetrators are publicly exposed. It’s hard to heal from a wound when there’s no public acknowledgement of it,” Clohessy said.
TV5 has chosen not to release the names of the other two clerics as we have not been able to verify the credibility of the allegations against them. The diocese said they have no new information on them either.
As for the group SNAP, they are urging anyone with information or suspicions about clergy sex crimes to contact local law enforcement.