Allegation against Former Jacksonville Priest ‘credible’
By Chris Dettro
January 13, 2014
A preliminary investigation has found “credible” an allegation that a Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese priest sexually abused a youth while he was serving in Jacksonville more than 30 years ago.
The finding by the Diocesan Review Board sends the case of the Rev. Robert “Bud” DeGrand, 61, to the next step of the Catholic Church’s investigative process in Rome.
DeGrand will continue to be on leave from public ministry and from his church residence. When the allegation surfaced in September, DeGrand temporarily withdrew from serving Catholic parishes in Sigel, Neoga, Green Creek and Lillyville in east-central Illinois.
His case now goes to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for further proceedings, according to a statement from the Springfield diocese on Monday.
The diocese compared the function of the Diocesan Review Board with that of a grand jury in a criminal proceeding. It determines whether criminal charges should be brought but does not make a determination of guilt or innocence.
Diocesan spokeswoman Kathie Sass said the Vatican Congregation is “reserved to handle the most serious offenses” within the church. She said Pope John Paul II directed that allegations of abuse be handled by that department.
The alleged misconduct occurred while DeGrand was serving Our Saviour Parish in Jacksonville in 1980, the same year he was ordained to the priesthood. He also has served parishes in Winchester, Bluffs and Granite City.
Church officials first learned of the allegation on Sept. 9, 2013, the diocese said at the time, and on Sept. 13, the Diocesan Review Board found the allegation to have a “semblance of truth” and recommended a preliminary investigation.
Diocesan policy requires that the Morgan County state’s attorney’s office and the state Department of Children and Family Services be notified.
DCFS, after an investigation of the report, found it “was unable to document credible evidence of child abuse and/or neglect in the investigation,” according to a news release from the diocese.
“This means essentially that children are not presently at risk, but definitive conclusion could be reached about the allegation from the 1980s,” the diocese said.
The criminal statute of limitations has run out on the allegation against DeGrand because of the length of time since the incident occurred and the age of the victim when it reported, unless another victim comes forward.
The Vatican’s process will determine the church’s response. If DeGrand is found guilty by the Vatican Congregation, he could be “directed to a life of prayers and penance” or be removed from the priesthood for all practical purposes, Sass said.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called on Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki to suspend DeGrand when the allegations became known. SNAP also said the allegation should have been made public earlier.
Anyone with questions about diocese policy or who has information about abuse of a minor by a priest should call the diocesan victim assistance coordinator, Patricia Kornfeld, at 321-1155, Sass said.
Contact Chris Dettro: 788-1510, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/ChrisDettroSJR