Former Jacksonville Priest Being Investigated
September 19, 2013
A former Jacksonville priest is being investigated for an alleged incident of sexual misconduct while he was serving at a church there 33 years ago.
The Rev. Robert “Bud” DeGrand, 61, has temporarily withdrawn from serving Catholic parishes in Sigel, Neoga, Green Creek and Lillyville, in east-central Illinois, according to a statement from the Springfield Catholic Diocese.
DeGrand has also served parishes in Winchester, Bluffs and Granite City.
The alleged misconduct occurred while DeGrand was serving Our Saviour Parish in Jacksonville in 1980, the same year he was ordained to the priesthood, according to a news release issued by the diocese Thursday.
“The Springfield diocese takes such allegations very seriously,” Bishop Thomas John Paprocki said in the release. “We have a strict ‘Policy on Sexual Abuse of Minors by Church Personnel’ that reflects our desire to safeguard the welfare of minors in our parishes, institutions and programs. It also reflects our determination to deal properly and decisively with any allegation of sexual abuse of minors.”
The diocesan statement says church officials first learned of the allegation Sept. 9. On Sept. 13, the Diocesan Review Board found the allegation to have a “semblance of truth” and recommended that Paprocki begin a preliminary investigation.
As required by diocesan policy, the Morgan County state’s attorney’s office was notified.
Paprocki and two other Catholic officials met with DeGrand’s current parishioners Sept. 18 to discuss his absence.
The purpose of the temporary withdrawal is to quickly provide an opportunity to assess the risk to minors, the needs of the church and the situation of the accused priest, Paprocki said.
“It involves the cleric withdrawing himself at once from public ministry until a more definitive determination of the allegation can be made,” Paprocki said in the release.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called on Paprocki to suspend DeGrand.
“There’s a difference between someone stepping aside and someone being told to step aside,” SNAP said in a news release. “To let a credibly accused child molesting cleric decide whether to temporarily step down minimizes the horror he or she allegedly committed.”
SNAP also said the allegation should have been made public earlier.
Anyone with knowledge of an instance of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest should call local law enforcement or the diocesan victim assistance coordinator, Patricia Kornfeld, at 321-1155.