Ex-priest guilty of molesting 5-year-old Michigan boy after officiating funeral for boy's family

 A Michigan priest who preyed on a 5-year-old boy following a 1987 funeral service he officiated for the child's relative pleaded guilty this week to sexual assault, the state's head prosecutor said.

Vincent Delorenzo, an 84-year-old former priest in the Lansing Diocese, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of attempted criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement.

“Our team continues to work day and night to bring an end to an era of abuse that has hidden in plain sight for far too long and provide justice to those who have suffered years of unimaginable trauma,” Nessel wrote. “This guilty plea will hopefully close this painful chapter and open the opportunity for much-needed healing for those victimized by Delorenzo.”

In exchange for Delorenzo's guilty plea, additional charges filed against him were dismissed, according to the statement. Those charges related to the sex assault of another boy from 1995-2000, who attended Holy Redeemer School and Church in Burton, Michigan.

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Delorenzo to spend at least one year behind bars

Delorenzo was initially charged in the 67th District Court in Genesee County. He was arrested in May 2019 in Marion County, Florida.

Sentencing is set for June 13.

Delorenzo is expected to be sentenced to five years probation, the first year of which he will serve in the Genesee County Jail, Nessel’s office said. Other conditions of the plea include he must register as a sex offender for life, pay restitution and undergo counseling.

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Rev. Vincent DeLorenzo

One of five priests charged

Delorenzo, formerly of Flint, was among the first five priests charged by Nessel in May 2019, as part of an ongoing investigation into sex abuse at Catholic churches in the state.

The following people were also charged: 

  • Timothy Michael Crowley, Lansing Diocese. Crowley was a priest at various parishes, including St. Thomas Rectory in Ann Arbor. He is charged with four counts of first-degree and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in Washtenaw County. 
  • Neil Kalina, Archdiocese of Detroit. Kalina was a priest at St. Kiernan Catholic Church in Shelby Township. He is charged with four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in Macomb County. 
  • Patrick Casey, Archdiocese of Detroit. Casey was a priest at St. Theodore of Canterbury Parish in Westland. He is charged with one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in Wayne County. 
  • Jacob Vellian, Kalamazoo Diocese. Vellian was a priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Benton Harbor. He is charged with two counts of rape in Berrien County.
Natalie Neysa Alund covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

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