August 30, 2014 at 1:00 am

Mount Clemens priest 'negligent' in sex abuse case for delay in reporting

The Archdiocese of Detroit has concluded an investigation into a Mount Clemens priest accused of not informing police quickly enough when an usher sexually abused a teen at a church event.

The abuse took place in the final months of 2011 on the St. Peter Parish property.

Rev. Michael Cooney was suspended from February to April 2012, and after that, a panel of canon lawyers launched an investigation. More than two years later, the panel’s findings have been reported to Archbishop Allen Vigneron.

The report states that Cooney “was negligent in performing his duties as pastor of St. Peter Parish, Mount Clemens, by failing to properly report the suspected abuse of a minor in a timely manner and failing to take proper measures to protect an alleged victim,” according to a press release from the archdiocese.

The panel determined that although Cooney advised a family member to report the abuse to authorities, he had the responsibility to report the abuse immediately when he learned of it.

Vigneron has issued a personal rebuke to Cooney, required him to make a retreat and to write letters of apology to the parish and to the family and others affected by the failure to report, according to the release.

Cooney has been with the parish since 1990, and there are no allegations of abuse against him.

Vigneron acknowledged Cooney’s 24 years of service and his “otherwise exemplary program of child protection in place at the parish,” the release states.

In February 2012, Michael Lentini, 19, of Macomb Township was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct and served two years of probation.

Lentini, who was an usher and parishioner at the church, allegedly performed sexual acts on a 14-year-old girl while at a pancake breakfast at the church in November 2011. The two had a relationship through December, but were not boyfriend and girlfriend, police said.

The girl confided in a school counselor, who reported the incidents to authorities. Her mother later filed a complaint with the Sheriff's Office.

The archdiocese did not take action until the arrest was made to avoid interfering with the criminal investigation.

A message left for Cooney at the church was not returned.

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