Frequently Asked Questions

If I have been the victim of child sexual abuse by someone representing the Catholic Church, whom should I contact?


What if as an adult I am a victim of sexual harassment or sexual abuse, by someone who works for the Catholic Church?


A family member has been the victim of sexual abuse by someone representing the Catholic Church, can I contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator?


What should I expect if I report Child Sexual Abuse to the Diocese?


What should I expect if I report that I am an adult victim of sexual harassment or sexual abuse by someone who works for the Catholic Church?


What is the purpose of the Review Board for Sexual Abuse of Minors?


I have made a complaint that is going to the Review Board. What does that mean?


What is the purpose of the Code of Conduct Advisory Council?


I have made a complaint that is going to the Code of Conduct Advisory Council. What does that mean?


My complaint is very old, does it still make sense for me to report sexual misconduct or sexual abuse?


If I have been the victim of child sexual abuse by someone representing the Catholic Church, whom should I contact?

If anyone has reason to suspect physical, sexual or emotional abuse of any person of any age, please contact the Michigan Attorney General hotline 844-321-3374, Protective Services 855-444-3911 or the police, as appropriate.

To report to the Diocese or request assistance, contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Lansing, Cheryl Williams-Hecksel, LMSW, 1-888-308-6252 or via e-mail to: vac@dioceseoflansing.org

What if as an adult I am a victim of sexual harassment or sexual abuse, by someone who works for the Catholic Church?

Adults may also report sexual harassment and sexual abuse to the Victim Assistance Coordinator. Other concerns about clergy misconduct can be reported to the Lighthouse Incident Reporting service, 844-446-0009 or Lisa Kutas, Human Resources Director, 517-342-2511, or via email to lkutas@dioceseoflansing.org.

A family member has been the victim of sexual abuse by someone representing the Catholic Church, can I contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator?

Family members of victims may also contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator. Sexual abuse can have lasting impact on families of victims. The Victim Assistance Coordinator is available to provide assistance and support to family members.  

What should I expect if I report Child Sexual Abuse to the Diocese?

Reporting sexual abuse is often very stressful. You will be received with kindness, compassion, and patience. The Victim Assistance Coordinator will support you in reporting what happened to you.  

You can expect that in most instances phone messages and emails will be responded to within 48 hours.

The Victim Assistance Coordinator will take the information that you share about the abuse and report it to the Bishop’s office. In all instances the Diocese will share the allegations with law enforcement. We understand that privacy and confidentiality are important to victims. The Diocese does not publish the names of victims or share victim information with the press. 

You will be provided information about the timeline, process for investigation and presentation to the Review Board for the Sexual Abuse of Minors. At the conclusion of the Review Board process, you will be provided with a written summary of the outcome of the process. If you have questions or concerns about the process or outcomes of this process the Victim Assistance Coordinator is available to assist you.

The Diocese is concerned that you have access to services and supports for your healing. The Victim Assistance Coordinator will work with you to identify needs and assist with referrals for counseling, therapy and other supports. The Victim Assistance coordinator will also assist you in setting up a meeting with the Bishop if that will be helpful to you.

What should I expect if I report that I am an adult victim of sexual harassment or sexual abuse by someone who works for the Catholic Church?

Reporting sexual harassment or abuse is often very stressful.  You will be received with kindness, compassion, and patience. The Victim Assistance Coordinator will support you in reporting what happened to you. 

The Victim Assistance Coordinator will take the information that you share about the abuse and report it to the Bishop’s office. The Diocese will share all criminal allegations with law enforcement. We understand that privacy and confidentiality are important to victims. The Diocese does not publish the names of victims or share victim information with the press.    

You will be provided information about the timeline and process for investigation and review by the Code of Conduct Advisory Council. If you have questions or concerns about the process or outcomes of this process the Victim Assistance Coordinator is available to assist you.

The Diocese is concerned that you have access to services and support for your healing. The Victim Assistance Coordinator will work with you to identify needs and assist with referrals for counseling, therapy, and other support. The Victim Assistance coordinator will also assist you in setting up a meeting with the Bishop if that will be helpful to you.  

What is the purpose of the Review Board for Sexual Abuse of Minors?

The Review Board for Sexual Abuse of Minors advises the Bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and in his determination of a cleric's suitability for ministry. The Statutes governing the Review Board and a list of its current members are available here.

I have made a complaint that is going to the Review Board.  What does that mean?

The Review Board reviews all allegations of clerical sexual abuse of a minor. Before an allegation is referred to the Review Board, the Diocese will retain a private investigator to investigate the allegation. Upon completion of the investigation, the Diocese will refer the allegation, including the investigative report and supporting exhibits, to the Review Board for consideration. When the allegation is against a living cleric, the accuser will be given an opportunity to meet with the Review Board. The accused cleric will likewise be given an opportunity to meet with the Review Board. Anyone appearing before the Review Board may present documents or written narratives to the Review Board.

The Review Board assesses the allegation and advises the Bishop whether the allegation (a) appears to be false, (b) appears to be true, (c) further investigation is needed, or (d) there is insufficient evidence to determine whether the allegation appears to be false or appears to be true.

The Bishop will review the recommendation and notify the Review Board of his decision. As soon as practical (and no later than two weeks), following the Review Board’s recommendation to the Bishop, the Victim Assistance Coordinator will give the accuser a brief report regarding the Review Board process and the outcome. While findings of the investigation and deliberations of the Council are confidential and cannot be disclosed, the accuser will be informed regarding the materials presented to the Review Board (including whether the investigator was present) and the Bishop’s determination.    

What is the purpose of the Code of Conduct Advisory Council?

The Code of Conduct Advisory Council assesses allegations of clerical misconduct, including violations of the Code of Conduct, canon law, the employee handbook, or other diocesan policies. The Advisory Council also provides advice to the Bishop regarding the results of the assessment. The Statutes governing the Advisory Council and a list of its current members are available here.

I have made a complaint that is going to the Code of Conduct Advisory Council. What does that mean? 

The Council reviews all allegations of clerical misconduct, except for sexual abuse of a minor (reviewed by the Review Board, discussed above). Allegations of grave misconduct are investigated by a private investigator. The allegation, the investigative report (if any) and exhibits, and a written response from the accused cleric are all forwarded to the Advisory Council for review. The Council assesses the allegation and, if warranted, advises the Bishop regarding possible penalties or rehabilitation.

As soon as practical (and no later than two weeks), following the Council’s recommendation to the Bishop, the Victim Assistance Coordinator will give the accuser a brief report regarding the Council process and the outcome. While findings of the investigation and deliberations of the Council are confidential and cannot be disclosed, the accuser will be informed regarding the materials presented to the Council (including whether the investigator was present), the Bishop’s determination, and any canonical limitations on the discipline or rehabilitation imposed.     

My complaint is very old, does it still make sense for me to report sexual misconduct or sexual abuse?

Yes. The Diocese is committed to supporting healing for all victims. There is no time limit for reporting complaints. Even if there are limitations about what legal steps can be taken all reports will be treated seriously and at a minimum kept on file. Similar to civil statutes of limitation, canon law limits the time period in which ecclesiastical authority can impose a penalty or other consequence for a violation. Typically, this period is three years, with worse offenses subject to a five-year statute. Cases of sexual abuse of a minor are reserved to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and hence are not subject to the typical statutes of limitations.