Legal experts around Michigan are questioning the decision of the state Attorney General’s office to publicly disclose a dismissed complaint filed against former Judge Michael Talbot regarding the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw sex abuse investigation.
Bishop Joseph Cistone appointed Talbot, a former Michigan Court of Appeals judge, last spring to act as an intermediary between the diocese and law enforcement officials during the investigation into former priest Robert DeLand. DeLand was recently convicted on charges of criminal sexual conduct. The Saginaw County Prosecutor’s office objected to the move after a meeting with Talbot. Prosecutor John McColgan filed a complaint last July with the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, claiming Talbot was hampering the investigation, which Talbot denied. The commission dismissed the complaint in December.
Talbot was released from his role with the diocese after the death of Cistone last October.
It wasn’t until Michigan State University hired Talbot in February to manage Title IX process changes that the decision was made to publicly disclose the complaint. The prosecutor’s office shared concerns with the Attorney General’s office about Talbot’s possible interaction with sexual assault victims of former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar. Despite the dismissal of the complaint, officials in the prosecutor’s office say Talbot attempted to intimidate, harass and interfere with the investigation into DeLand. The move disclose the complaint has been criticized as damaging to the reputation of Talbot, or as being inconsistent between the Attorney General’s office and the Attorney Grievance Commission, which kept the complaint confidential. Both Attorney General Dana Nessel and McColgan are defending their decision in a joint statement released Monday, May 6.