Diocese: Priest accused of sex crime served in Kzoo

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Catholic officials are asking any possible victims of a priest who once worked in the Diocese of Kalamazoo to contact police.

The Diocese of Lansing removed Rev. Robert Gerl’s priestly permissions last week based on a “credible” allegation of sexual assault involving an adult male decades ago.

Gerl previously served in the Diocese of Kalamazoo at Nazareth College from 1986 to 1991; at St. Thomas More Parish in Kalamazoo from 1997 to 2000; and at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Portage from 2000 to 2009. He also celebrated Mass at other parishes on a temporary weekend basis. 

He no longer conducts any ministry in the diocese, officials said.

Gerl is also a licensed psychologist who has worked as a school counselor in West Michigan. Between 2000 and 2011, he worked at Hillside Learning and Behavior Center in Allegan County, a special needs school that serves students from preschool through age 26. After leaving the school, Gerl worked as a special education supervisor for the Branch Intermediate School District until 2015. Officials at both agencies say he passed background checks when applying and that his personnel files don’t indicate any problems.

24 Hour News 8 went to Gerl’s home in Kalamazoo Thursday seeking comment, but no one answered the door. He also couldn’t be found at the counseling office he maintains in a building at 251 N. Rose St. in Kalamazoo.

The state agency that licenses psychologists disciplined Gerl in 2006 for calling himself a doctor before he had actually earned his doctoral degree, but there are currently no open complaints against him.

Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs told 24 Hour News 8 it is reviewing recent media reports to determine any steps it might take regarding Gerl’s license to practice psychology.

The Diocese of Kalamazoo says victims of Gerl can also contact the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Deacon Pat Hall at 877.802.0115.

His case comes weeks after Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced he is investigating sexual abuse allegations and potential coverups involving all seven of Michigan’s dioceses, dating as far back as 1950. Schuette’s office executed search warrants at all of the dioceses last week.

The Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids previously identified 14 priests who molested children since the 1950s, but none since the early 2000s.

**Correction: A previous version of this article stated Gerl worked at Hillside Learning and Behavior Center from 2000 to 2001. He actually worked there from 2000 to 2011.

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