Former Macomb County priest to stand trial in sex abuse case

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A former Macomb County priest is set to face trial for criminal sexual assault, the Michigan Attorney General's Office said Tuesday. 

After a preliminary examination, a judge ruled there was enough probable cause to send charges against Neil Kalina, 66, to Macomb County Circuit Court. He was a priest at St. Kiernan Catholic Church in Shelby Township from 1982-85, investigators said in a statement. 

“As we marked the three-year anniversary of our Clergy Abuse Investigation at the beginning of the month, I hope our continued prosecution against Mr. Kalina serves as a reminder of our ongoing commitment to securing justice for abuse survivors,” said state Attorney General Dana Nessel.   

Neil Kalina

Kalina was first charged in May 2019 and arrested in Littlerock, California.

He was accused of fondling a youth at St. Kieran after providing him alcohol and drugs, Nessel's office reported at the time.

The statute of limitations had not expired since Kalina left the state after serving a jail sentence tied to a 1986 conviction in another matter, said Lynsey Mukomel, a spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's Office. A defendant must live in Michigan for the statute of limitations "to tick down," Mukomel said.

The case was reissued to include first-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to the release. Kalina now faces two counts of second-degree CSC with a child between 13 but less than 16, felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison; and one count of first-degree CSC with a child between 13 but less than 16, a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

"A second case, which was charged in June, was dismissed at the preliminary exam because the survivor is unable to proceed with the prosecution at this time," Nessel's office said Tuesday.

Kalina was part of a religious order separate from the archdiocese, called the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission, and left public ministry in 1993, according to the Archdiocese of Detroit. The allegation against him was brought to the archdiocese in 2017 and forwarded to his order and the Shelby Township Police Department.

His first date in Macomb County Circuit Court is scheduled for Nov. 1. 

Since Nessel's clergy abuse investigation started, 11 people have been charged and four cases have resulted in convictions, her office said Tuesday. 

In August, former Catholic school music teacher Joseph Comperchio was sentenced to 12 to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse charges dating to his tenure at a Jackson school in the 1970s. 

In July, Gary Berthiaume, a former priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte and Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, was ordered to stand trial on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Two additional cases were first charged in June.

Also in July, former U.P. priest Gary Jacobs was sentenced to between eight and 15 years in prison. 

Former priests Patrick Casey and Brian Stanley pleaded guilty in their cases in 2019.