State revokes ex-Macomb County priest's counseling license
By Mitch Hotts
September 8, 2019
A state licensing board has revoked a counseling license from a former Macomb County priest accused of sexually assaulting a young boy.
The Michigan Board of Counseling on Friday stripped Lawrence Ventline of the educationally limited counselor's license for three years and issued a $5,000 fine.
The board's action follows the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA)'s summary suspension of Ventline's license in May after an administrative complaint concerning the alleged sexual assault was filed by state Attorney General's Office.
Ventline failed to respond to the complaint. Under the state's Public Health Code, when a defendant does not respond to a complaint, the board is to consider the accusations to be "undisputed and true."
"Unfortunately, the statute of limitations bars us from prosecuting Mr. Ventline for any crimes we believe he may have committed," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a news release.
Still, Nessel said the board's actions makes sure Ventline cannot use his counseling license to lure in and abuse vulnerable patients, including young children.
Ventline, who now resides in Port Austin and could not be reached for comment, was restricted from public ministry with the Archdiocese of Detroit in 2016 due to the allegation.
He has served as a parochial vicar at St. Rene Goupil Parish in Sterling Heights in 1979-1981; parochial vicar at St. Anne Parish in Warren from 1992-1994; and an administrator at St. Mark Parish in Harsens Island in St. Clair County. Ventline has not been assigned to a full-time parish for 20 years before the 2016 allegations surfaced, the archdiocese has said.
The Attorney General's Office has accused Ventline of raping an 11-year-old male student at an unnamed Catholic parish and school in Oakland County during the 1989-1990 school year in the church sacristy, or private room priests use for preparations, according to the administrative complaint.
Ventline has not been charged with a crime. There is no statute of limitations for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, but at the time the alleged incident took place, the law stated the statute of limitations for the crime was six years.
Ventline had other issues beyond the sex assault claim.
In September 2018, he had falsely claimed in a newspaper ad that is was "Dr. Ventline P.h.D." and failed to show he had an educationally limited license, according to the complaint. The complaint says he suffered from "ongoing mental health problems that were exacerbated by the stresses of providing counseling services."
In February 2017, he was not compliant with his physician't recommendations treatment. The same physician recommended he retire for his "mental and physical well-being," the complaint stated.
Ventline, who also was active in various political protests during his days in Macomb County, has denied the charges in a letter to the Huron Daily Tribune and threatened to sue Nessel.
"I am the victim here. The abuse I endured at the hands of a criminal who made up this lie will be arrested (sic)," he wrote in the June 27 letter.