Former Benton Harbor priest among 5 charged with sex crimes in Michigan

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("Saturday Sunset" by Greg Weber, Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says prosecutors have brought sexual abuse charges against five Catholic priests as part of her office’s investigation into clergy abuse.

Nessel said Friday that the priests served in dioceses in Detroit, Lansing and Kalamazoo, and that they’ve been charged with various counts of criminal sexual conduct. She says four of them have been arrested in Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan, and that the fifth awaits extradition from India.

84-year-old Jacob Bellian, who was a priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Benton Harbor, is charged with two counts of rape and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. He’s currently living in India.

A sixth priest faces an administrative complaint and has had his counseling license suspended by the state.

Nessel is among more than a dozen attorneys general investigating or reviewing clergy abuse following a shocking Pennsylvania grand jury report last year detailing seven decades of child sex abuse by more than 300 predator priests.

She has asked the state’s seven dioceses to suspend their own internal review processes until her office’s probe is complete.

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