Victim Support Group Returns, Saginaw Diocese Refuses Questions
By Amanda Chodnicki
March 27, 2018
A survivor who said he was sexually abused decades ago by a priest within the Saginaw Diocese is helping alleged victims get through recent events surrounding the Catholic church.
Just last week, the offices of the Saginaw Diocese, the Bishop Joseph Cistone's residence and the rectory at Saint Mary's Cathedral were raided by police.
Boxes of items including electronics, were seized and all the while, victims were continuing to come forward.
This survivor, Brad Sylvester, is now a volunteer with the organization "SNAP", or the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
A victim himself, he said, he was asked by police to assist a number of alleged victims just now coming forward about Father Robert DeLand, who was arrested on sex crime charges, and other clergy members within the Saginaw Diocese.
"You know, you get to a point where you need to take a break for a while and then regain your energy again," Sylvester said.
Sylvester dedicated a lot of his time to helping victims sexually abused by priests, but for the past five years or so, he took a step back to be with his family.
"And this [recent events] kind of pushed it along a little bit," he said.
With all that is now coming to light within the Saginaw Diocese, he said he is ready to help survivors and finish what he started.
Sylvester said he was abused by his priest, who is now deceased, from the time he was eight years old until he was 12.
"They took advantage of me... of being that to us... being that God-like figure and that was probably the most disheartening thing," he said.
At 36, Sylvester said he tried to come to grips with what happened.
With the help of a social worker, he contacted law enforcement and the Saginaw Diocese directly.
"I wrote a letter and gave the issue of what happened and, you know, they wouldn't meet with me," he said.
Sylvester said he sent letter after letter addressed to Bishop Joseph Cistone and made multiple personal visits to the offices of the dioceses, but he received little to no response.
He said someone from the diocese sat in on one of his therapy sessions, but not much came of it.
"They took notes and nothing was ever said after that," he said.
Sylvester said a nun followed up with a letter dated November 3, 2010, but he said the diocese offered little to no further assistance.
NBC25/ FOX66 News reporter Amanda Chodnicki tried to get a comment from the diocese about Brad's accusations.
Amanda Chodnicki: "We're going to talk to somebody from SNAP today who has been alleging that Cistone's has known about this for years and we are going to be talking to him... I want to get both sides..."
Diocese rep: "I do I appreciate you doing your job, but I don't have anything beyond that statement."
Amanda Chodnicki: "And the bishop is not going to talk anytime soon?"
Diocese rep: "I don't have anything from the bishop for you at this time."
But Sylvester said he wants to hear more from the bishop than just a statement.
"What I would ask Bishop Cistone is why he's not protecting the children of his flock," he said. "If you're a bishop of diocese, you're there for guidance and protection."
Sylvester said there were no legal proceedings because he exceeded the statute of limitations.
For those potential victims involved in recent events, Sylvester said his organization "SNAP" will start up their monthly meetings again in Saginaw.
The first one will be sometime in April.
You can find information to reach "SNAP" by clicking here.