Saginaw Area Priest Pleads No Contest to Sexual Abuse Allegations
NBC 25 News
September 4, 2018
A Saginaw Township priest has pleaded no contest to sexual abuse allegations.
Father Robert Deland Jr. took the plea deal Tuesday for a total of six felonies and a misdemeanor.
Circuit Judge Darnell Jackson indicated he would likely sentence Deland to a year in jail without possibility of release on tether as well as a five-year probation term, according to the Saginaw County Prosecuting Attorney's office.
Deland will also be required to register as a sex offender when he is released.
“We are satisfied that Mr. Deland has been held accountable for all of his misconduct in all of the cases that we filed,” said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mark Gaertner.
The charges against Deland stem from incidents involving male victims now aged 18, 19 and 23.
All of the alleged incidents happened while Deland was pastor of St. Agnes Church in Freeland, a part of the Saginaw Diocese.
Deland's attorney Alan Crawford released a statement Tuesday, saying it was an extremely difficult day for his client.
"Our trial was set to begin tomorrow. However, Father Bob was simply ready to move on from this entire ordeal. The no contest plea officially closes this chapter of my client’s life," said Crawford.
The Saginaw Diocese offered the following statement late Tuesday: "While the case is still pending, the diocese does not want to influence it in any way. We will have a comment when the sentence is imposed."
Since his arrest and subsequent court hearings, the diocese has put Father Robert Deland on immediate administrative leave from active ministry.
Deland’s trial was set to begin Wednesday.
A news conference has been scheduled for Wednesday morning.