Former priest sentenced to 10 days in jail for exposing himself

Huron Daily Tribune [Bad Axe MI]

February 20, 2020

By Scott Nunn

Must report to jail Feb. 22

Former priest and Port Austin resident Lawrence Ventline, 70, was sentenced to 10 days in jail for exposing himself in an area bakery last year.

Ventline had been charged following a complaint by the business and was scheduled for trial Jan. 28. However, he pleaded no contest to the indecent exposure charge before his trial started.

Prior to sentencing, Huron County Prosecutor Timothy Rutkowski addressed the court and stated that an investigation conducted by the Bad Axe Police Department revealed that Ventline walked around the bakery with his genitals outside his sweatpants for approximately 7-10 minutes.

During a rebuttal by Ventline’s attorney, it was argued that Ventline has an enlarged prostrate which caused him to urinate himself, which led to the exposure. Ventline’s attorney also said his client has devoted his life to helping others and he believed community service was fair.

Ventline, a former Catholic priest with the Archdiocese of Detroit, was temporarily removed from the ministry in 2016.

Prior to that restriction, he had not been assigned to full-time parish ministry for nearly 20 years, having last served in a full-time role from 1996-97 as an administrator at the St. Mark Parish in Harsens Island.

Ventline was previously accused of sexually assaulting a young boy, though he was never criminally charged or found guilty of sexual assault. At the time the attorney general’s office was seeking charges against five catholic priests. The attorney general had dropped the charges against Ventline due to the statute of limitations.

“The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs revoked Ventline’s counseling license in September and fined him $5,000.

Rutkowski argued that Ventline should receive 180 days in jail, because in his opinion the exposure was intentional and Ventline had a previous case involving theft from a business, which was forgiven last year because he had no record.

Ventline was sentenced to one year personal-reporting probation, 10 days in jail and 12 hours community service. He was also ordered to pay a total $855 in fines and costs. While on probation, Ventline must participate in mental health evaluations with Huron Behavioral Mental Health.

Ventline has to report to the Huron County Jail Feb. 22, and he may arrange work program.

After sentencing Ventline to jail, Chief Judge David B. Herrington said he reviewed the investigative reports and he felt the sentence was fair, based on previous sentences delivered by the court on cases of similar nature.

“I did read the police report and there is nothing in the report that led me to believe that it was unintentional,” Herrington said. “I am concluding by the information and discovery material that it is a reasonable inference that Mr. Ventline knew he was exposed.”