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Local woman says priest abused her when she was 14 years old

Posted at 6:53 PM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 18:55:59-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A local woman says a Catholic priest abused her as a child. Tuesday, she burned a book just outside the Archdioceses of Detroit Headquarters, then told her story publicly for the first time.

Jeanne Hunton stood with supporters outside the Detroit Archdiocese headquarters. She burned a book published by a priest recently. She then told her story of that priest.

“I was a 14-year-old," she said. "I had taken a summer job."

Hunton says it happened in the summer of 1977 while she worked as a housekeeper at a metro Detroit rectory. She says the priest – who has not been charged with any crime – sexually abused her. She didn’t tell anyone for decades.

“I held it in all those years because I was ashamed," Hunton said. "I was embarrassed."

She says she reported it to Detroit police in 2010, but learned the statute of limitations had passed. She filed another report this year with Michigan State Police when State Attorney General Dana Nessel called on people to come forward. She is hoping her story gives credibility to anyone else who is a victim who comes forward and complains about the same priest.

“I am sad for all the people out there who are still afraid to come forward," Hunton said. "They need to get that burden off their shoulders. It is not their shame to carry."

She says she confronted the priest in 2010 and he claimed he didn’t remember anything. She says she knows he remembers.

“You know what you have done, but you just keep rolling on like nothing ever happened," she said. "I hope that others come forward."

The Archdiocese of Detroit released a statement on the allegations stating, “We have no prior record of any allegation having been made against him. We are always deeply grieved to learn about any allegations of clergy abuse, especially involving minors or vulnerable adults, and we do everything in our power to provide assistance to victims.”

The Michigan State Police redacted the priests name from police reports released.

Action News reached out to the priest who is accused. He said on the phone the allegations are lies.

The press release from the Archdiocese of Detroit said, “Individuals with knowledge of sexual abuse by clergy or other Church representatives are urged to contact local law enforcement and/or the Attorney General’s Office at (844) 324-3374 or aginvestigations@michigan.gov. Individuals may also share the report with the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Victim Assistance Coordinator at (866) 343-8055 or vac@aod.org.”