Lansing Diocese Identifies Late Priest Accused of Abusing Boys

By Patricia Montemurri
Detroit Free Press
August 24 2010

The late Rev. John Martin (Lansing diocese)

Lansing Catholic Bishop Earl Boyea took a rare step today to publicly identify a long-dead Catholic priest, the Rev. John Martin, as having abused six teenage boys in a parish where Martin served before his death in 1968.

Boyea said he first learned about the allegations against Martin, who pastored St. Isidore in Laingsburg from 1941-1966, in June. Two men told stories about the abuse to the current pastor of St. Isidore, who relayed the information to Boyea.

When Boyea learned about the initial accusations, he asked that notices be placed in the parish bulletins of St. Isidore and St. Mary Parish in Morrice (1938-1941) asking anyone with information about Martin to come forward.

Four other men, who had grown up at St. Isidore, also then came forward.

“It’s a little unusual that we’re making public these allegations against a man who has been dead for 42 years and can’t defend himself,” said diocese spokesman Michael Diebold.

“But the stories from the victims are coming with such consistency. And the bishop believes them. We believe these men have been abused by Father Martin. And our primary concern is to find whether there are other victims out there.”

Diebold said the diocese has learned that Martin also was very involved in community life outside the church, coaching baseball and swimming teams.

“Every victim who has come forward has indicated that they not be identified,” said Diebold. “In many cases, these are men who haven’t shared this with their wife or children or anybody.”

The victims are now in their 60s and 70s, said Diebold.

Martin also served at St. Philip Parish in Battle Creek (1932-1938), which is now a part of the Diocese of Kalamazoo. In the Archdiocese of Detroit, he served at Sacred Heart Parish in Yale (1923-1932); and St. Vincent in Detroit (1918-1923), which is now closed. Diebold said those archdiocese have been notified of the allegations.

The Lansing diocese asks that anyone molested by Martin contact Boyea’s office through the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator, Adrienne Rowland at 888-308-6252 or


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