Diocese Puts Restrictions on Accused Priest

By Kelly Dame
Midland Daily News
March 2, 2018

A Freeland priest facing sexual assault charges has been banned from wearing clerical garb and presenting himself publicly as a priest.

The Rev. Robert John DeLand Jr., 71, Saginaw Township, faces charges of attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct, second-degree criminal sexual conduct and gross indecency between males. Each count is a felony punishable by up to five years in jail.

Since the arrest, police said they have been inundated by calls detailing incidents with the suspect dating back 30 years.

DeLand, the pastor at St. Agnes Church in Freeland and the judicial vicar at the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, was arraigned earlier this week and was released on a GPS tether.

He was placed on administrative leave by the Diocese of Saginaw, and now the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, bishop of Saginaw, has announced further mandates for DeLand.

In a Thursday afternoon media release, Bishop Cistone announced DeLand is to meet all bond conditions, including the "critically important directive that he is to have no contact with individuals under 21, for the well being, safety and protection of our community and most especially young people."

As a result of the condition, DeLand is prohibited from going on school properties or participating in school and parish activities and functions.

DeLand has been informed he is not to wear clerical garb or present himself publicly as a priest, and may not participate in public ministry. DeLand also is to notify the Office of the Bishop of any change of location.

The restrictions will remain in place throughout the entire criminal proceeding, the release states.

In accord with diocesan policy, an internal investigation will begin once the criminal investigation is complete. Bishop Cistone has publicly expressed his commitment, on behalf of the Diocese of Saginaw, to cooperate fully with law enforcement.

DeLand was arrested after a joint investigation by the Tittabawassee Township Police and the Saginaw Township Police which began on Aug. 8 when a 21-year-old man reported he had been sexually assaulted the night before by a Catholic priest at the priest's Saginaw Township condo.

Between Nov. 2 and Feb. 25, five reports naming the same suspect were filed with police. Those cases accuse the suspect of gross indecency, furnishing alcohol to a minor, sexual assault and purchase of the drug ecstasy, a media release from the Tittabawassee Township Police states.

Also during that time, the suspect was under law enforcement surveillance by detectives, with assistance from the Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team.

The arrest involved an incident with a 17-year-old male victim during surveillance, officials said at the press conference.

DeLand, represented by attorney Alan A. Crawford of Saginaw, is next due in court for a March 19 preliminary hearing.








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