With regards to Father Michael Sullivan, LC, the Legionaries of Christ clarifies that:
1. In November 2017 two women came forward with issues concerning Fr. Michael Sullivan, LC. One stated she had strong concerns about Fr. Sullivan crossing emotional boundaries showing affection and favoritism toward her starting in high school. The other woman expressed similar concerns though her experiences started when she was in college (cf. 2019* Code of Conduct of the Legionaries of Christ in the United States, #18).
2. Fr. John Connor, LC, then territorial director of the North American territory, determined that these emotional boundary violations—not sexual in nature—were sufficient to warrant temporarily removing Fr. Sullivan from priestly ministry, even though it was not strictly required according to the 2019* Code of Conduct of the Legionaries of Christ in the United States (#45).
3. Father Sullivan was removed from ministry and went to New York for a week-long assessment with an experienced psychologist who works with priests.
4. Having heard different professional opinions that did not consider him a serious risk to others, and considering that no accusation of sexual abuse of a minor had been received, Fr. Sullivan returned to ministry while at the same time receiving ongoing and frequent support from a licensed professional.
5. Two years later, on October 30, 2019, an adult woman came forward indicating that Fr. Sullivan crossed over emotional and physical boundaries with her as an adult and she indicated that he had disclosed to her that he had done so with other adult women as well. She was asked to provide a written report which was submitted on November 3, 2019.
6. On November 4, 2019 Fr. Sullivan was interviewed and was immediately removed from ministry and an internal investigation into the allegations commenced. Fr. Sullivan is currently at a residential treatment center in the United States.
7. The Legionaries of Christ reached out in November of 2019 to the two women who originally came forward in 2017 to inform them about the new allegations.
8. When confronted about the allegations in November of 2019, Fr. Sullivan admitted to violating the Legionaries of Christ 2019* Code of Conduct in the United States pursuant to Appendix A:1 on dealings with adult women. He continues to assert that he has never crossed emotional or physical boundaries with minors.
9. The Legionaries of Christ have not asked for law enforcement assistance with regards to this case. At this time there is no evidence that any laws have been broken. If we obtain a different set of facts in the future, we will revisit that decision.
10. In collaboration with the Diocese of Austin, the Archdiocese of Houston, and the Diocese of Dallas, Fr. John Connor, territorial director at the time, communicated about Father Sullivan on December 7, 2019 in a letter that was posted on legionariesofchrist.org.
11. On December 9, 2019, Fr. John Connor, then territorial director, flew to Houston, Texas to meet with three of the women who had made claims and one of their husbands. He stayed two more days and met to discuss the situation with two groups of women. One of the women who made allegations was at one of the groups and shared her experience with Fr. John Connor and the other women present.
12. A professional third-party investigation was started on December 11, 2019. After this investigation is completed, the report will be submitted to the Legion of Christ Review Board and they will make recommendations to the territorial director who will decide on the appropriate steps to take regarding this case. A summary of the results of this investigation will be published once it has been finished.
13. We are grateful to those who have come forward so that this case could be properly dealt with. As part of the ongoing investigation, we are in the process of reaching out to all those affected. Should you have additional information about Fr. Sullivan pertinent to this investigation please contact the Legionaries of Christ’s pastoral care advocate for the United States, Abby Saunders.
Abby Saunders, Pastoral Care Advocate
Phone: (678) 467-9348
14. Fr. Michael Sullivan was ordained in 2008. After ordination, he moved to Texas where he worked as the Legionaries of Christ vocations director from 2009 until 2016. He mainly worked with college students and young adults in Dallas, College Station, and Houston, Texas. In 2016 he became the Texas Director of ConQuest and served in that role until November 4, 2019, primarily working with middle-school and high-school-aged boys in Houston and Austin, Texas. Also, on occasion, he would fill in for priests at various parishes and worked with adults in spiritual direction, and offered retreats and activities for the whole family in the diocese of Austin and the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
*The Legionaries of Christ Code of Conduct was updated July 2022