Molestation Allegations Deemed “Credible”
In recent years, the Roman Catholic Church has been under fire for the number of priests who have been accused of child sexual abuse and molestation. Many of those claims have proven to be true, and that seems once again to be the case with these most recent accusations.
Father David West, a popular and well-loved priest who served in the church for many years, and held many high level positions before his death in 2004, is now accused of molesting a boy in the 1970s. And according to the Archdiocese of Detroit, the allegations seem to be accurate.
The fact that the priest in question is deceased obviously means that he will not be subject to charges. But in the eyes of the church, it does not change the fact that the alleged victim still needs help in recovery.
According to Joe Kohn, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Detroit, it makes no difference when the abuse happened, or how long afterwards it was reported. Once a review board has determined that the accusation is credible, they alert every place where that priest ever worked. This is because, according to Kohn, it “increases the likelihood that it may have occurred elsewhere.”
In West’s case, he served in about 20 different parishes throughout southeastern Michigan. He spent time on the faculty of Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, served as a minister at Wayne State University, and was also a chaplain at Bishop Gallagher High School in Harper Woods.
As a result of West’s numerous postings, the church is planning to make the allegations as public as possible. This way, if there were any others, they may be more encouraged to come forward. According to the Archdiocese, the church puts no deadlines or time limits on reports of the crime of sexual abuse by priests or any other church personnel against minors.
Had West still been alive, he would have faced charges here in Michigan for the sexual assault of a minor. We have no details as to exactly what the abuse included, so we can only speculate as to which charges he would likely have faced. But we do know that in Michigan, sexual assault on minors in a very serious crime and can result in lifelong consequences for the accused and convicted.
In addition to prison time, which could last for a lifetime, depending on the nature of the offense, there is also the fact that West would have been required to register as a sex offender. Additional penalties could have included severe fines and also electronic monitoring.