GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — A retired West Michigan priest who has since been removed from the priesthood over sexual abuse allegations started grooming his victim when she was as young as 12, police records obtained by the Grand Haven Tribune show.
William Langlois, 75, was defrocked earlier this month. At the time, the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids said it had learned of the allegations in 2018. Langlois had retired in 2016 after serving as pastor of St. Patrick-St. Anthony Catholic Parish in Grand Haven for the previous 20 years and in other West Michigan parishes for some 30 years before that.
The Grand Haven Tribune reported Tuesday that a March 2018 police report it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act alleges Langlois groomed a “vulnerable child” over a period of a few years. That allegedly began in 1994 or 1995 when she was 12 or 13.
According to the Tribune, the woman told police her family was part of Langlois’ parish. She said that when her mother died, she found herself going to him for counseling. She said he would find time to talk to her after church and drove with her to the hospital, where he would visit people on their deathbeds. The woman said that as they drove back to Grand Haven, Langlois would hold her hands or put a hand on her knee or thigh.
Later, the report says, the victim would go back to the rectory with Langlois and they would continue their conversations, which led to other things including hugging, foot rubs and back rubs. The report also said sometimes the priest would be partially unclothed, but would apologize for his behavior. Eventually, things escalated to touching, kissing and oral sex.
The victim later went away to college, but said that during her freshman year, a church employee asked her to serve in the church, which put her back in direct contact with Langlois. The relationship continued until she became engaged.
Langlois was never criminally charged because of the statute of limitations and insufficient evidence.