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October 1, 2013

Ex-Southfield priest accused of sexually abusing minor

By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer

SOUTHFIELD — Rev. Louis Grandpre, 79, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, has been placed on administrative leave of absence following an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor dating back to his early years of service.

Grandpre served as weekend assistant and later pastor of the now-closed St. Ives Parish in Southfield for nearly two decades, starting in the ’70s.

The announcement was made Sept. 17, though Joe Kohn, director of public relations for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said Grandpre, a Detroit resident, was restricted from public ministry during the early summer.

That is when the accusation came forth through the archdiocese’s confidential hotline, he explained.

“We have a confidential hotline, so when cases come to us, they oftentimes come from our victim assistance coordinator,” Kohn said. “When an allegation is brought against a member of Catholic clergy, two things happen.  First, it is turned over to civil authorities. Secondly, the church undergoes its own process to investigate the credibility of the allegations.”

Kohn said the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office was immediately notified, though at press time, the office had confirmed that Grandpre was not in custody, and no case record was on file for him.

The Archdiocesan Review Board “deemed the allegation substantive,” and Kohn noted that Grandpre is now permanently removed from active ministry.

“Even if law enforcement decides not to act, the church can take action if they deem that the allegation was credible,” he explained.

Due to victim sensitivity, Kohn could not comment on how old the victim was at the time of the alleged misconduct, what type of complaint was made or when the reported incident(s) occurred.

He was able to say that only one person has made an allegation against Grandpre. 

According to his biographical information, Grandpre was educated at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and the University of Detroit. He went on to attend Georgetown University and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., as well as St. John Provincial Seminary in Plymouth.

Grandpre was ordained in 1961 and began his career as associate pastor at Detroit’s Epiphany Parish. He left that position in 1965 to join Sacred Heart Seminary’s faculty, where he remained until he became the pastor of St. Ives Parish.

During his time teaching, he concurrently served as weekend assistant at three parishes: St. Alphonsus Parish in Dearborn in 1966, St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Algonac from 1966-1971 and St. Ives Parish from 1971-1974.

In 1974, the late Cardinal John Francis Dearden assigned him as pastor at St. Ives, which had about 500 registered families, according to Kohn. St. Ives closed in 2007, when it merged with St. Beatrice, St. Bede and St. Michael to form Church of the Transfiguration.

Grandpre finished his career at St. Paul of Tarsus in Clinton Township — a 3,750-family parish — serving as pastor from 1990-2003. He then retired, or achieved senior priest status. 

“Oftentimes, senior priests will be weekend assistants at parishes, saying one of the Masses. In Father Grandpre’s case, he was not acting (when put on leave), due to a decline in health,” Kohn explained. “Him being restricted means he now cannot fulfill any duties that come with being a priest — for example, saying Mass or hearing confessions.”

These are not the only allegations tied to the Southfield community that the Archdiocese of Detroit has had to respond to in the last year.

Last October, a 36-year-old Lathrup Village resident filed a civil lawsuit against former St. Bede teacher and basketball coach John P. Kiley, alleging that he sexually abused her from 1989-1991, while she was a sixth- through eighth-grade student there.

Kiley, who was principal at Detroit Holy Redeemer when the allegations were made, was immediately put on paid administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Detroit while the matter was investigated.

The lawsuit ended up being dismissed in January after the judge ruled that too much time had passed since the alleged abuse took place — in accordance with Michigan law that allows victims of alleged sexual abuse as minors only until their 19th birthday to file a civil suit — though Kiley’s employment at Holy Redeemer still ended in January, according to Kohn.

Kohn confirmed that his employment was terminated by the Archdiocese but said that he was not at liberty to discuss personnel matters.

Because the alleged abuse occurred before Michigan abolished the statute of limitations for first degree criminal sexual conduct cases in 2001, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office could not bring criminal charges against Kiley.

Kohn said he had no information on whether or not legal action would be sought against Grandpre and noted that the archdiocese does not provide legal counsel to its clergy. 

Kohn also added that while parishes provide resource information for possible victims as a standard, the specific parishes where Grandpre served have now been encouraged to reach out to other potential victims.

Archdiocesan policies and procedures regarding such matters are available online at the Protecting Children page at www.aod.org. To inform the archdiocese of complaints involving sexual abuse of minors by clergy or church personnel, or speak to the Victim Assistance Coordinator, call (866) 343-8055.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jessica Strachan at jstrachan@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1108.