Letter: AG's handling of grievance warranted
Re: The Detroit News' May 3 article, "Experts: AG Nessel's disclosure of complaint against judge creates ethical concerns": We are compelled to address this article, which raised concerns that the attorney general disclosed facts involving retired Judge Michael Talbot and a grievance filed with the Attorney Grievance Commission by the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office.
This attorney general is committed to prosecuting sexual assaults and holding accountable any institution, religious or otherwise, that fails to protect those in its care. It is exactly what the attorney general, the state’s chief law enforcement officer, should do. And it is exactly what Attorney General Dana Nessel is doing by continuing the investigations into MSU and clergy abuse by the Catholic Church.
When the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office learned that MSU had hired Talbot in a position to interact with sexual assault victims, the Prosecutor’s Office immediately contacted the Attorney General and urged her to convey information relevant to Talbot’s fitness for the job.
That information included that Talbot, acting on behalf of the Saginaw Diocese, exhibited inappropriate and threatening behavior in — what the Prosecutor’s Office believed — was an attempt to get it to shut down a legitimate law enforcement investigation into sexual assaults concerning one of the Diocese’s priests. It was that behavior that ultimately led to the filing of the grievance against him, not whether a search warrant should have been executed at the home of the late bishop as Talbot has described.
Talbot acted in an unprofessional and highly disrespectful manner. Based on the content of that meeting including Talbot’s aggressive and disruptive behavior, it is clear that he attempted to use his position as a retired judge in an effort to intimidate, harass, berate, disrespect, belittle and interfere with an ongoing investigation under the guise of protecting children of the community.
The actions of Talbot were so inappropriate and the concern so great from both offices that the information regarding the grievance was disclosed publicly. And to be clear there is nothing about the filing of a grievance that compels confidentiality in this context.
The fact of the matter is that the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office relayed relevant information to the Attorney General’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office disclosed that information publicly because we believed it best served the interests of the public.
Dana Nessel, Michigan attorney general
John McClogan, Saginaw County prosecutor