After decades of silence, victim comes forward with allegations against local priest
By Aftab Borka
April 1, 2016
|Judy Larson. Photo courtesy of Larson
For nearly six decades, 68-year-old Judy Larson has kept a secret to herself, her sister and husband.
But earlier this year, Larson, who attended Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington in the 1950s, decided it was time to go public.
In January, she contacted the Archdiocese of Detroit alleging that the then-priest of the church in Farmington, Richard Lauinger, had raped her when she was 10.
|Judy Larson when she was 10. Photo courtesy of Larson
Her allegations made the archdiocese start an internal investigation. On March 28 the organization reported that the allegations against Lauinger, 85, were found to be credible.
“He (the priest) told me then that nobody would believe me. I believed it all my life,” said Larson, recounting her days at the old church in Farmington. “And now there are people who are saying ‘We believe you’.”
“It’s like amazing to me because all my life I believed nobody would take me seriously,” she said.
Larson, who never had children, said she didn’t even tell her parents about the incident.
Soon after making Lauinger’s case public, the archdiocese also put his name on its list of priests who have been accused of abuse.
The Oakland Press tried to reach out to Lauinger who, according to the archdiocese, moved out of Michigan in 1985. But the archdiocese said it could not release the contact information of the priest in question.
However, Ned McGrath, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said Lauinger has been notified of the allegations made against him. McGrath said several victims have come forward so far.
In addition to reporting the alleged crime to the archdiocese, Larson, who now lives in Utah with her husband, traveled to Farmington to lodge an official complaint with the city’s police department.
Without naming her, Farmington Public Safety Commander Justin Dulong said one victim came forward to them and filed a report in February.
The department then sent their report to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office to look into the possibility of filing criminal charges.
But the case turned out to be too old to go to courts.
“The statute that existed at the time would only allow for initiation of charges for six years,” said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton.
Walton said there is nothing in the current legal system that would allow his department to initiate charges against the priest in question.
Larson, who says she has already gone through emotional trouble recounting her story, said her goal has always been to put Lauinger’s name in public.
“If he is prosecuted, that’s a bonus,” she said. “But if I can get his name on the (priests) database, that is my goal.”
“I want the survivors to know that he didn’t get away with it,” said Larson.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aftab Borka, a journalist since 2004, covers southern Oakland County, including Southfield, Farmington Hills and Novi. Reach the author at email@example.com or follow Aftab on Twitter: @AftabBorka