Statute of Limitations Run out on Priest
By Maria Nagle
October 10, 2013
The statute of limitations apparently has run out on a 33-year-old allegation of sexual misconduct against a former Jacksonville priest, but the county’s chief prosecutor is not ready to close the door on pursuing prosecution.
The accusation involves acts alleged to have occurred between the Rev. Robert “Bud” DeGrand and a minor in 1980, the same year DeGrand was ordained to the priesthood and assigned to Our Saviour Parish in Jacksonville.
Church officials have been investigating the 61-year-old priest after the allegation was received Sept. 9 by the Catholic Diocese of Springfield’s victim assistance coordinator. On Sept. 13, the Diocesan Review Board found the allegation to have “a semblance of truth” and recommended that Bishop Thomas Paprocki begin a preliminary investigation.
As required by a diocesan policy, State’s Attorney Robert Bonjean III and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services were notified.
“At this point, we have no idea what the investigation by the diocese will turn up,” Bonjean said. “Based on the limited information contained within that letter I do believe that the criminal statute of limitations has run. So based on that allegation, the state would be unable to file any criminal charge.”
In the early 1980s, Illinois laws concerning sexual crimes were rewritten, with the new laws taking effect July 1, 1984, according to the Illinois Sex Crimes Statutes of Limitations Guide. In 1986, the statute of limitations was extended for child victims of sex crimes so that a case could be charged any time before the victim’s 19th birthday even if the sexual assault had occurred years earlier. This change first extended only cases in which the victim and offender were family members, but was then modified to include all child victims regardless of whether there was a family relationship. In 2000, the one-year limitations period was changed to 10 years, extending cases of criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child or aggravated criminal sexual abuse until the victim turns 28.
In 2003, the law was changed again to 20 years, now allowing prosecution until the victim reaches the age of 38.
”Based on information we were given, it would appear the person (in the 1980 incident) is older than that,” Bonjean said. “There are certain circumstances as to when the victim reveals it for the first time that could trigger perhaps an extension later than, based on our review of the statute of limitations, the most lengthy time period of 20 years past the age of majority, which is age 18.”
Bonjean provided a copy of the diocese’s letter to the Jacksonville Police Department’s investigations division and asked that its detectives remain in contact with those conducting the diocese investigation to get some information Bonjean needs before he decides whether he can pursue charges.
“I am hopeful I will have some definitive ages, dates and times so that I can make that determination,” Bonjean said.
Bonjean said he has had no contact with Springfield diocesan officials nor with DeGrand, but said in speaking with Jacksonville Police detective Brad Rogers learned the diocesan’s internal investigation is ongoing.
“At this point there are no new developments and it is my understanding that there are no new allegations related to Father DeGrand,” Bonjean said.
DeGrand is cooperating with the recommendation of the Diocesan Review Board that he temporarily withdraw from public ministry and from his residence at a rectory pending further investigation. He had been serving as pastor of parishes in Sigel, Neoga, Green Creek and Lillyville, which are in southern Illinois near Effingham.
DeGrand’s temporary withdrawal from ministry “is not a judgment of guilt and it is not equivalent to a canonical suspension,” Paprocki said, meaning he remains pastor until a determination is made regarding the allegation.