Could Local Priest Return to Church?
Leroy White May Return to Davison

By Michael Rosenfeld and Taryn Asher
April 26, 2004

[Scanned by from a printout in the Sylvia Demarest archive.]

A local priest placed on administrative leave nearly two years ago for allegations of sexual misconduct could soon return to the church.

It's the news Father Leroy White has been waiting to hear. ABC12's Michael Rosenfield had more. White served St. John Catholic Church in Davison from 1994 to 2002, when a past allegation came back to haunt him.

Monday night, he's one step closer to getting back his reputation. White, off the pulpit for close to two years, when he was caught up in the frenzy surrounding priests and the Catholic Church saddened but not surprised by the re-emergence of an old case.

"Well, I wasn't happy, but it was the way things were going," he said. "A lot of priests were going through this. I wasn't the only one."

In 2002, White was in his eight years of service at St. John Catholic Church in Davison when an accusation from his past resurfaced.

Back in 1990, while serving at a church in Kalamazoo, several women complained that they were touched inappropriately by the long-time priest.

"I was accused of putting my hands up on them while meeting them in front of the church, and some of the women were offended and I didn't realize it," White said. "I known I would have changed my actions."

During the height of allegations over sexual misconduct in the Catholic Church, the Diocese of Kalamazoo put White on administrative leave, while it re-examined the case.

White had to step down and wait, spending time in his garden and he says growing spiritually. Monday, the 74-year-old received a letter from the Diocese, allowing him to return to performing his duties.

"I'm glad it's over," he said. "In expected it to come out like this. "(I'm) pleased I'm free once more to do what I've been called to do for so long."

The Diocese of Kalamazoo says the allegations still have clout, but that Rome has told them White can't be fully restricted from the priesthood with one exception: He cannot serve in the Kalamazoo area.

The next step in this process is that White has to be allowed by the Diocese of Lansing -- which oversees Genesee County -- to return to serving here in the area.


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