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Guilt or innocence unable to be established in accusation of sexual misconduct by diocesan priest

Priest returned to ministry with strict limitations

The Rev. Frank Lenz

MARQUETTE — A Church tribunal has determined an accusation of sexual misconduct with a minor in the early 1970s against Father Frank M. Lenz is inconclusive, according to a diocese press release. A canonical (Church law) process authorized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was unable to establish guilt or innocence to the standard of moral certainty in the case.

The accusation was received by the Diocese of Marquette in early 2018. At the time, Father Lenz, a senior (retired) priest of the diocese was put on administrative leave effective immediately. In accord with diocesan policy, the allegation was reported to the Marquette County Prosecutor.

Following review of the accusation by civil authorities, the case was forwarded to the CDF, which authorized the bishop of Marquette to establish a special tribunal to adjudicate the case. Canon lawyers from outside the diocese heard the case.

Father Lenz has continued to deny the allegation.

From the time of the accusation, Father Lenz was removed from all public ministry and prohibited from presenting himself as a priest in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

In light of the tribunal’s decision, Father Lenz is returned to ministry with strict limitations in place by Bishop John Doerfler, which include prohibiting him from priestly ministry in parishes and schools.

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