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Church tribunal finds accusation of sexual misconduct by Marquette priest ‘inconclusive’

A church tribunal determined accusation of sexual misconduct with a minor in the early 1970s against Father Frank M. Lenz is inconclusive.
Fr. Frank Lenz. FILE.
Fr. Frank Lenz. FILE.(WLUC)
Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. - A Church tribunal has determined an accusation of sexual misconduct with a minor in the early 1970s against Father Frank M. Lenz is inconclusive. A canonical (Church law) process authorized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) was unable to establish guilt or innocence to the standard of moral certainty in the case.

The accusation was received by the Diocese of Marquette in early 2018. At the time, Father Lenz, a senior (retired) priest of the diocese was put on administrative leave effective immediately. In accord with diocesan policy, the allegation was reported to the Marquette County Prosecutor.

Following review of the accusation by civil authorities, the case was forwarded to the CDF, which authorized the bishop of Marquette to establish a special tribunal to adjudicate the case. Canon lawyers from outside the diocese heard the case.

Father Lenz has continued to deny the allegation.

From the time of the accusation, Father Lenz was removed from all public ministry and prohibited from presenting himself as a priest in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

In light of the tribunal’s decision, Father Lenz is returned to ministry with strict limitations in place by Bishop John Doerfler, which include prohibiting him from priestly ministry in parishes and schools.

To those who have been harmed by clergy sexual abuse, Bishop Doerfler said, “On behalf of the Church, I apologize to all those who have been harmed by any bishop, priest or deacon, and renew my commitment to reach out and bring Christ’s peace and healing. There is no excuse for what happened to you. You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I am willing to journey with you to find Christ’s peace and healing.”

Bishop John Doerfler encourages anyone who has been abused in the diocese to contact Michigan’s Attorney General to report the abuse. The Michigan Attorney General’s Office can be contacted at its toll-free reporting hotline at 844-324-3374 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) or by email at aginvestigations@michigan.gov.

The diocese’s Victims Assistance Coordinators are also available to help those harmed receive pastoral care leading toward healing.

To bring a complaint regarding the sexual abuse of minors to the attention of the diocese, call one of the victims' assistance coordinators: Stephen Lynott at 844-495-4330 or Diane Tryan at 844-694-4362.

Those who wish to put their complaint in writing may direct their correspondence to: Victims Assistance Coordinator, c/o Catholic Social Services of the U.P., 1100 Ludington St., Suite 401, Escanaba, MI 49829. The letter should be marked “personal and confidential” and indicate whether a response is desired by phone or by letter.

The diocese will also help anyone bring their concerns to Church officials outside the diocese if the sexual abuse occurred elsewhere and the person now resides in the Diocese of Marquette. If you are unsure about bringing a complaint or would like further information, Stephen Lynott or Diane Tryan may be contacted at the numbers above.

The diocese always encourages those bringing a complaint to report the incident to local civil authorities. The diocese reports all allegations to the appropriate civil authorities.

Press Release from the Diocese of Marquette, 2020. All rights reserved.