West Michigan priest sex abuse by the numbers

Target 8
After the Fall T8 Generic 650x370 021119

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Since the late 1950s, 14 priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids have sexually molested at least 33 girls and boys, according to Target 8 research.

Dennis Wagner was the only one defrocked, and Rev. Shauman Beas was the only one who was convicted of a sex crime. Beas was later deported.

Target 8 investigators pieced together the information after interviewing survivors and digging through archives at WOOD TV8 and the Grand Rapids Public Library, as well as online records, court records and police reports. Here’s how it all breaks down:

STATUS OF PRIESTS

Six priests are receiving support, including pension and health benefits and vehicle insurance from the diocese. However, they are not allowed to publicly present themselves as priests.

  • Rev. Donald Heydens
  • Rev. Michael McKenna
  • Rev. David LeBlanc
  • Rev. Louis Baudone
  • Rev. Daniel Aerts
  • Rev. Charles Antekeier

While it’s unclear where Father Vincent Bryce is now living, Target 8 found five priests still in West Michigan:

  • Rev. Donald Heydens
  • Dennis Wagner
  • Rev. Daniel Aerts
  • Rev. Michael McKenna
  • Rev. David LeBlanc

Two are living out of the state:

  • Rev. Louis Baudone
  • Rev. Charles Antekeier

Five others have died since the incidents:

  • Rev. John Thomas Sullivan
  • Rev. Stanislaus Bur
  • Rev. Eugene Alvesteffer
  • Rev. Lawrence Hartwig
  • Monsignor J. Walter Grill

PREDATORY PRIESTS


Rev. John Thomas Sullivan

Known survivors: Nine people
Parishes served: Holy Spirit in Grand Rapids and St. Patrick’s-St. Anthony’s in Grand Haven
Details: In 1994, the Diocese of Grand Rapids paid a $500,000 settlement to three women Sullivan repeatedly abused in the late 1950s. Before that, Sullivan had a long history in other states, including impregnating a girl and arranging for her abortion. Sullivan was suspended in 1952 and in 1956 in New Hampshire. In 1958, the Diocese of Grand Rapids took him on, despite warnings. He was later sent to other states, where he allegedly sexually assaulted other girls.
Status: Died in September 1999.


Dennis Wagner, 70, of Norton Shores

Known survivors: Six people
Parishes: St. Michael’s in Coopersville, Holy Family in Caledonia
Details: Wagner was charged with gross indecency with 13-year-old boy in Muskegon County in 1983. The charge was reduced to misdemeanor assault and he was given probation. After that, Wagner had no more parish assignments, though he worked for a time at Holy Family. He later worked as a canon lawyer until his suspension in 2002. Six boys say he molested them, some after his conviction.
Status: Dismissed from the clerical state.

Rev. Donald J. Heydens, 74, of Southeast Grand Rapids

Known survivors: Four people
Parish: St. Francis Xavier in Grand Rapids
Details: In the early 1990s, the Grand Rapids Diocese substantiated allegations Heydens sexually abused four girls between the ages of 12 and 16 in the 1970s. The case led to a six-figure settlement for the survivors and another smaller settlement in 1989 and 1994.
Status: Since August 2002, Heydens is no longer allowed to publicly present himself as a priest. He is obligated to a life of prayer and penance.

Rev. Louis Baudone, 87, of West Paris, Maine

Known survivors: Two people
Parish: Muskegon Heights
Details: Baudone faced two allegations in 1981 involving young boys. He resigned in 1993.
Status: He’s no longer allowed to publicly present himself as a priest and is obligated to a life of prayer and penance.

Rev. Shauman Beas, 50, of Pakistan

Known survivors: Two people
Parish: Holy Family in Sparta
Details: As part of a May 2004 internet sting, Beas was arrested in eastern Michigan for soliciting sex from what he thought was a 14-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 5 to 20 years in prison for the crime. Later, two sisters in Kent County accused him of inappropriate touching in 2002, which led to his conviction and more prison time.
Status: Deported to his native country of Pakistan.

Rev. Michael McKenna, 72, of Byron Center

Known survivors: At least two people
Parishes: Sacred Heart in Muskegon Heights
Details: He was permanently removed from all ministry in December 2006 after allegations he abused a child in the 1970s. McKenna took a medical sabbatical in 2002 and was placed on medical leave in 2003 before the allegations surfaced. A second survivor later came forward.
Status: He’s no longer allowed to publicly present himself as a priest and is obligated to a life of prayer and penance.

Rev. Vincent Bryce, 89, location unknown

Known survivors: One person
Parishes: Another state
Details: The Grand Rapids Diocese substantiated allegations he sexually abused a boy in 1977 in another state. The victim came forward with allegations in 2002.
Status: Not a Diocese of Grand Rapids priest and no longer serving in West Michigan. He’s under the supervision of his order, the Dominican Fathers.

Rev. Stanislaus Bur, deceased

Known survivors: At least one person
Parish: St. Peter and Paul in Ionia
Details: Accused in 1992 of molesting an Ionia altar boy in 1958. The diocese found the accusation credible and paid up to $1,000 a month for the victim’s therapy from 1992 to 2001. The diocese removed him from active ministry in the early 1990s.
Status: Died February 2009.

Daniel Aerts, 69, of Paris, MI

Known survivors: One person
Parishes: St. Thomas the Apostle and Holy Spirit in Grand Rapids
Details: The survivor sent letter to the diocese in 2002, saying he’d been sexually assaulted by Aerts in 1979. The survivor was a teenager at the time of the assault.
Status: Since April 2002, Aerts is no longer allowed to publicly present himself as a priest and is obligated to a life of prayer and penance.

Rev. David E. LeBlanc, 83, of Byron Center

Known survivors: One person
Parish: St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church in Muskegon
Details: Resigned from his parish in 2007 after admitting to a bishop that he had abused a pre-teen boy in 1971. He admitted to the crime when the accusation first surfaced in 1993.
Status: He is no longer allowed to publicly present himself as a priest and is obligated to a life of prayer and penance.

Rev. Charles Antekeier, 83, of Florida

Known survivors: One person
Parish: St. James Parish in Grand Rapids
Details: In November 2015, the victim reported “incidents” that happened in 1984 to 1985 to the diocese.
Status: He is no longer allowed to publicly present himself as a priest and is obligated to a life of prayer and penance.

Rev. Eugene Alvesteffer, deceased

Known survivors: One person
Parish: St. Simon’s in Ludington
Details: A single allegation surfaced from his time serving in Ludington in the 1970s.
Status: Died in 1998.

Rev. Lawrence Hartwig, deceased

Known survivors: One person
Parish: Muskegon
Details: A single allegation surfaced from his time serving in Muskegon in 1982.
Status: Died in 1998.

Monsignor J. Walter Grill, deceased

Known survivors: One person
Parish: St. James in Grand Rapids
Details: Single allegation by a man who says he was in seventh or eighth grade when Grill molested him in the early 1970s. The man says the church is paying for his therapy.
Status: Died

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

Toxic Tap Water

More Toxic Tap Water

A Killer Among Us

More A Killer Among Us