Former U.P. priest to serve 8-15 years in prison in abuse plea

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A former priest in the Upper Peninsula is headed to prison in a plea deal that will result in one of the harshest prison sentences so far from the Michigan Attorney General’s clergy abuse investigation, the office announced Thursday.

Gary Jacobs pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal sexual conduct in Ontonagon County. As part of a plea agreement, the 75-year-old was required to plead guilty to one count and the highest charge on each of the four cases he faced, investigators said.

The deal means he must concurrently serve between eight and 15 years in prison on each count; register as a sex offender; undergo counseling; and have lifetime electronic monitoring when released. 

Sentencing is scheduled for May 25.

"This plea agreement will result in the harshest prison sentence handed down thus far in the Michigan Attorney General’s clergy abuse investigation," officials said Thursday.

Jacobs also faces a fifth case in Dickinson County, where the same plea agreement is planned, state officials said. A hearing is set for May 3.

“This plea agreement and subsequent prison time is the culmination of resolute work by our clergy abuse investigation team, but that work would not be possible without the courageous victims who came forward,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel. “This sentence will not erase the pain Mr. Jacobs inflicted on those who trusted him, but I hope our pursuit of justice can offer some sense of relief as their vulnerability led to this accountability.” 

Jacobs was arrested in New Mexico last year following a probe by Nessel's team.

He had been accused of criminal sexual conduct for incidents reportedly occurring in the 1980s in Ontonagon and Dickinson counties.

Two other former priests investigated, Patrick Casey and Brian Stanley, have pleaded guilty in their cases.