“More alleged victims of Saginaw priest Robert DeLand come forward Monday” & related articles

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ABC    abc12.com

By ABC12 News Team |

SAGINAW (WJRT) (2/26/2018) – Charges resulting from alleged sexual abuse by a Saginaw Catholic priest could be just the beginning.

The Rev. Robert DeLand

The Rev. Robert DeLand, pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Freeland, was arrested Sunday night and arraigned Monday on two charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of gross indecency between males.

The arrest came after a seven-month investigation that began in August, when a 22-year-old male accused DeLand of sexually abusing him at a location in Saginaw Township.

DeLand also is charged with having improper sexual contact with a 17-year-old boy from Tittabawassee Township from November 2017 until Sunday evening.

Saginaw County Prosecutor John McColgan said other alleged victims of DeLand have filed reports with authorities and are being investigated. The charges DeLand is facing currently resulted from the only two cases police and prosecutors have fully investigated so far.

Tittabawassee Township Police Det. Brian Berg said several more potential victims of DeLand have come forward Monday since news of his arrest broke.

“We have been inundated with a number of calls from individuals alleging similar acts over the last 30 years,” Berg said. “So we’re beginning to sort through that and contact the appropriate police agencies so that some investigations can be done.”

DeLand has worked at a variety of churches during his career, but police didn’t want to discuss where. Anyone who wants to file a report about DeLand’s behavior is asked to call the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office.

“The investigation is going to continue,” McColgan said. “It is far from over.”

Tittabawassee Township police launched their investigation in August 2017 after the initial report from the 17-year-old. Berg said he spoke with the prosecutor’s office in November, when he learned Saginaw Township police also were investigating DeLand’s behavior.

“We had two ongoing investigations at the same time,” said Saginaw Township Police Chief Don Pussehl.

Saginaw Township police first learned of DeLand’s alleged behavior in November, when the 22-year-old made a report. The two police departments and the prosecutor’s office then joined forces in the investigation.

Authorities kept DeLand under constant surveillance during the investigation to make sure nobody else was victimized.

“We were monitoring his activities at the school and at after-school events,” Berg said.

Police turned the 17-year-old Tittabawassee Township victim into an undercover informant after he filed a report. He helped police by taking part in a sting operation to catch DeLand in the act Sunday evening.

“He was very, very brave and very, very cooperative,” Berg said.

DeLand allegedly brought the 17-year-old to his condominium in Saginaw Township on Sunday evening, where police say he performed more acts against the victim’s will.

“It was almost a carbon copy of what happened to Saginaw Township’s (22-year-old) victim,” Berg said.

McColgan said DeLand used tactics to manipulate the two victims.

“There were a number of grooming techniques used to befriend the victim, to prey on the victim’s weaknesses and to lure the victim to the residence on Mallard Cove,” McColgan said.

DeLand is accused of using alcohol and the drug Ecstasy to help manipulate the 17-year-old victim, Berg said. Alcohol was used in the case involving the 22-year-old, Pussehl said.

However, DeLand currently is not facing any charges related to the drug and alcohol use. McColgan said that could change soon.


Police seek more victims after Freeland priest is charged with sex crimes


Saginaw News   (Michigan)

SAGINAW, MI — Sunday, the Rev. Robert DeLand Jr. conducted Mass at St. Agnes Church in Freeland and renewed the vows of a couple who had been married 25 years, according to people who were there.

He was arrested later that day.

Monday, he was in jail charged with sexual assault after police in Tittabawassee and Saginaw townships finished a months-long investigation into allegations of  sex crimes involving alcohol, drugs and underage boys.

During a joint press conference with the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office and Saginaw and Tittabawassee townships’ police departments, officials called for more victims to come forward.

According to Tittabawassee Township Police Detective Brian Berg, police arrested the 71-year-old DeLand at his Saginaw Township condominium after a six-month investigation.

Deland is charged with single counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct causing personal injury, and gross indecency between male persons. The former two charges are 15-year felonies, while the third count is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.

The victims are a 17-year-old high school male and a 21-year-old male.

The 17-year-old helped police in their investigation and surveillance of DeLand, something Berg said was “very brave of him.”

According to police, the 17-year-old male was assigned to do community service through DeLand.

Investigation begins

A sexual assault complaint was filed in August 2017 and claimed the incident happened inside the priest’s condo, according to police.

Five additional reports were filed with the Tittabawassee Township Police Department from November 2017 to Sunday, Feb. 25, and claim DeLand engaged in gross indecency, sexual assault, furnished alcohol to minors, and bought the drug ecstasy.

As a result of the arrest and criminal investigations, DeLand has been banned from Freeland Community Schools, as well as the CAN Council Great Lakes Bay Region properties, where he serves as a board member.

DeLand, who is represented by Saginaw attorney Alan Crawford, is allowed to be released on GPS tether while awaiting future court proceedings.

He is scheduled to appear in Saginaw County District Court Judge David Hoffman’s courtroom for a preliminary examination at 2:30 p.m. on March 19.

“Father Bob’s” background

DeLand preached at several churches in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Most recently, DeLand has served as the Diocese of Saginaw’s judicial vicar and pastor of St. Agnes Catholic Church in Freeland. A judicial vicar is appointed by a diocese’s bishop and oversees that diocese’s judiciary.

Prior to ministering at St. Agnes, DeLand served as the priest at St. James Church, 710 Columbus Ave. in Bay City, and as the pastor of All Saints Middle and High School, beginning there around 2005.   DeLand also served as the priest at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1600 Hudson St. in Essexville.

In a 2010 interview with The Bay City Times, DeLand said he felt the calling to become a priest while in high school.

“I spent a lot of energy in the area of community service,” DeLand said at the time. “I really enjoyed community service. My family was close to the church and it was just this nagging feeling that maybe I could take my love for community service into something bigger, namely the church. I went into seminary right out of high school. When I did that, I have to say it was just a natural fit.”

DeLand added that he spent vacation time volunteering at St. Vincent Home in Thomas Township, an assessment center for youths ages 12 to 17.

Response from the Catholic Diocese

In a press release, the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw said that it had first learned about DeLand’s arrest on Monday morning from local media.

“The Diocese of Saginaw had no previous knowledge of the police investigation or of these allegations,” according to the release’The diocese also said they plan to fully cooperate with law enforcement and asked for prayers for DeLand and his alleged victims.

DeLand will be placed on administrative leave while the investigation is underway, according to the press release.

Bay City Times reporter Cole Waterman contributed to this report.


Community reacts to criminal sexual assault allegations against Catholic priest

NBC 25 News

Monday, February 26th 2018

by Amanda Chodnicki

The recent news about the sexual assault charges against 71-year-old Father Robert DeLand has definitely shaken up the Catholic community in Freeland. (Photo credit: Jesse Gonzales)

The recent news about the sexual assault charges against 71-year-old Father Robert DeLand has definitely shaken up the Catholic community in Freeland.

After a six month investigation, 71-year-old Fr. Robert DeLand, or ‘Fr Bob’ as he was called, was arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct, attempt to commit a crime and gross indecency between men.

Many said they were blindsided by the recent allegations.But one parishioner at Freeland’s Saint Agnes Catholic Church, Marlene Bethune, said she wasn’t shocked by the news.

“I really wasn’t surprised,” she said.

Bethune learned Father Bob traded in his white priest garments for black-and-white prison stripes on Monday.

She said she was a parishioner at Saint Agnes for 9 years, but knew the Father for longer.

“When he was at St. Peter & Paul’s, he was my pastor there,” she said. “My children were in school when he was there, so I’ve known him a long time.”

She even got to see him behind the scenes when she cooked and cleaned at the rectory, where he once lived.

“I’ve never witnessed anything,” she added. “But I’ve had my suspicions.”

Unlike Bethune, the executive director with the Child Abuse and Neglect Council said she didn’t see this coming.

Father Bob served on the CAN Council’s board and was a prominent figure in the community.

“Our children look up and say this is someone I should listen to, someone I should trust and for me that’s the most heart wrenching of all of this,” she said.

One individual, who was unable to go on-camera, said Father Bob married her and her husband and prayed for them when they had a miscarriage.

She said he has been a part of her family for 20 years and she is hoping these allegations aren’t true.


Roman Catholic priest arrested for criminal sexual assault allegations

NBC 25 News

26 February 2017

Jail records show the Rev. Robert DeLand was arrested Monday. He’s the pastor at St. Agnes Church in Freeland. (WEYI/WSMH)


SAGINAW, Mich. — The pastor of a Catholic Church in Freeland, Fr. Robert DeLand, is out of jail on a tether Monday.

Earlier in the day he faced a Saginaw County judge on three charges involving two men: one is 17, the other is 21.

After a six month investigation, 71-year-old Fr. Robert DeLand, or ‘Fr Bob’ as he was called, was arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct, attempt to commit a crime and gross indecency between men.

This all happened while Fr Deland was pastor at St. Agnes Church in Freeland.

At his arraignment Fr. Deland said just a few words.

Fr. Deland says “can I get the names..?”

Prosecutors allege he wants to contact them.

According to police, the 17-year-old victim agreed to go undercover with police.

Brian Berg of the Tittabawassee Township police department described how police arrested the priest Sunday night.

Inside his Saginaw Township condo, the complaint alleges Fr. DeLand provided ecstasy and alcohol to the teenager before an alleged sexual encounter. There was another incident last August with a 21-year-old.

During a court appearance Fr. Deland’s attorney defended him.

Allan Crawford says ” as a pastor he’s helped hundreds if not thousands of people.”

But police believe he hurt people too.

Berg says ” since this hit the media, we’re being inundated with calls from potential victims”.

SAGINAW, Mich. — A Roman Catholic priest has been charged with sex crimes in Saginaw County.

Reverend Robert DeLand appeared in court Monday on three charges, including second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The 71-year-old is pastor at St. Agnes Church in Freeland and has been a longtime priest in the Saginaw Diocese.

DeLand was released on bond but must wear an electronic tether at his home in Saginaw Township. He can’t have contact with anyone under 21.

His attorney says the priest has helped “not hundreds but thousands” of people.

Police say they’ve received several complaints about DeLand since August. He had been under surveillance since November, although police say kids were not in danger during the covert operation.

Diocese officials didn’t return a message seeking comment.

Catholic Diocese of Saginaw released the following statement regarding Father Robert J. DeLand:

“The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw first learned about the arrest of the Rev. Robert J. DeLand this morning from local media who received a news release overnight from Tittabawassee Township Police. The Diocese of Saginaw had no previous knowledge of the police investigation or of these allegations.”

“Upon receiving the information from media this morning, the diocese requested a copy of the police report and warrant issued against Father DeLand, which we have not yet received.”

“I am deeply distressed by this most serious situation,” said the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw. “Clearly, the diocese will cooperate fully with law enforcement and their investigation. I ask that you keep in your prayers Father DeLand and anyone who has brought forward allegations against him. My heartfelt prayers and support go out to the St. Agnes Parish family and the entire Freeland community.”

“Father DeLand, who is pastor at St. Agnes Parish in Freeland, as well as a judicial vicar for the Diocese of Saginaw, will be placed on administrative leave during this investigation in accord with diocesan policy.”


4 Responses to “More alleged victims of Saginaw priest Robert DeLand come forward Monday” & related articles

  1. bc says:

    (Sylvia, I didn`t remember you had him here…)

    Church Militant has just uploaded disturbing audio recordings of convicted Father Robert Deland of the Diocese of Saginaw Michigan grooming in 2018 a troubled 17 year old male victim he was counselling. The young male`s friend who had also been in contact with Father Deland had committed suicide and that`s why the victim was being counselled by Father Deland. The victim was wearing a wire under police supervision. First acquitted on a first set of charges involving other victims to the applause of his followers and supporters within the courtroom, Father Deland did not contest the charges in the second case and is now serving his sentence of 2-15 years assorted with conditions. The audio evidence is disturbing. What Church Militant has uploaded are the less disturbing portions of some 14 hours which were recorded. The audio stops as Father Deland was about to rape the victim. The priest was arrested immediately.

    There is a civil action related to this matter.

    original coverage:

  2. Sylvia says:

    Thanks for the update bc. I have posed a group of articles covering the trials – acquittal and conviction. I tucked the youtube links in – they really do warrant watching/listening.

    So sad for the young lad who took the stand at the first trial.

    Anyway, here are articles: 03 May 2019:  “Prosecutors release audio recordings from case against Robert DeLand” & related articles

    • bc says:

      Yeah it is sad for the victim in the first case; but the wire recordings weren`t evidence in that case. I sincerely believe that this victim was prejudiced by Father Deland.

  3. bc says:

    Church Militant obtained and now airs audio of victim confronting Father Deland:


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