Former U.P. priest pleads guilty in abuse case

Detroit News [Detroit MI]

May 14, 2021

By Amelia Benavides-Colón

A former Upper Peninsula priest facing one of the harshest prison sentences so far in a clergy abuse investigation by the state Attorney General pleaded guilty Friday in a remaining case against him.

Gary Jacobs, 75, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in Dickinson County, the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

Last month, Jacobs pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal sexual conduct in Ontonagon County.

He’s accused of sexually abusing teens in the U.P. in the 1980s while serving as a priest under the Catholic Diocese of Marquette. 

“I am proud of the work done by our clergy abuse team to reach this plea agreement,” Nessel said in a Friday statement. “None of this would be possible without the courageous victims who have been willing to share their stories in order to achieve justice.”

The plea agreement spans both counties and requires lifetime registration on the sex offender list on the first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge. He will serve between eight and 15 years on each of the five total counts, which will run concurrently, officials said.

Jacobs also will undergo sex offender counseling and lifetime electronic monitoring when released.

Jacobs was arrested in New Mexico last year following a probe by Nessel’s team.

Two other former priests, Patrick Casey and Brian Stanley, were investigated in relation to the case and have pleaded guilty in their respective cases. 

Jacobs faces sentencing May 25 in Ontonagon County and July 2 in Dickinson County.