Marquette Catholic Bishop Responds To Sexual Abuse Report

Radio Results Network [Michigan]

October 27, 2022

Click here to hear Bishop James Doerfler comments. Click here to read the AG’s report.

Marquette Catholic Diocese Bishop James Doerfler held a news conference Thursday afternoon to respond to the 154-page report issued by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, which detailed alleged sexual abuse within the Diocese.

Doerfler started his remarks by offering a “sincere apology” to those who have been harmed, adding that the work to “stamp out this great evil must continue.”

To the alleged victims, the Bishop said:

“You are, and should have been, our priority. There is no excuse for what happened to you. It is especially grievous if your voice was not heard. Thank you to those who have courageously come forward to bring light into this darkness.”

The Attorney General report summarized allegations of misconduct against 44 different members of the clergy, dating back to 1950. Some of them are now dead, and others have retired from active ministry. To this point, the state has charged two former Marquette Diocesan priests with crimes, with one conviction and another case pending.

Doerfler noted that since 2002, there’s been a rigorous effort to reach out to past victims, and to give proper training to anyone who works in the U.P. Parishes, schools, and missions. He says that there are 1,678 priests, deacons, employees, and others approved to work in Catholic entities in the Upper Peninsula. None have any allegations against them.

“The Attorney General’s report lists allegations without making any determination whether the allegations are credible or substantiated,” Doerfler said. “You should know that no priest or deacon in the Diocese of Marquette with a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is in active ministry.”

Doerfler says the last-known allegation against an active member of the clergy in the Diocese was 25 years ago. He added that even though almost all of the abuse that occurred within the Diocese happened decades ago, “the wounds run very deep, and many people are still suffering today.”

The Bishop took exception to the mention of Father Mark McQuestin in the report. McQuestin, who is retired but is still a “senior preiest in active ministry.”

McQuestin allegedly “crossed boundaries” when he went to Florida for a wedding in the late 1980’s with three boys. He allegedly watched pornography while in the hotel room with one of the brothers, and had inappropriately touched him.

Doerfler says the matter was fully investigated by a member of the Wisconsin Office of Victim Services, John Flannery, who concluded that the allegations against McQuestin were not credible,

“The allegation was reported to the Diocese in 2018,” Doerfler said. “At the conclusion of the investigation, it was his (Flannery’s) opinion that the allegation was not credible. The Independent Review Board, which is mainly comprised of lay persons, also advised that the allegation of a sexual abuse of a minor against Father McQuestin was not credible. We have no evidence that Father McQuestin is a danger to minors.”

Doerfler urged anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse with anyone connected to the Marquette Catholic Diocese to come forward.