Popular Catholic Priest to Be Paroled after Serving 2 Years in Prison for Sexual Assault
By Cole Waterman
February 13, 2021
Less than two years after being sent to prison for sexually assaulting a teen, a prominent Roman Catholic priest is about to be paroled.
A Michigan Department of Corrections parole board on Dec. 29 decided to parole Robert J. “Father Bob” DeLand Jr., said MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz. DeLand, now 73, is currently incarcerated at the Marquette Branch Prison in the Upper Peninsula.
DeLand will be released around April 23, Gautz said. Conditions and restrictions DeLand will have while on parole are still being determined. DeLand’s parole term is expected to last two years, Gautz said.
DeLand must register as a sex offender until Oct. 13, 2045, at which time he will be 98.
Saginaw County Circuit Judge Darnell Jackson in April 2019 sentenced DeLand to two to 15 years in prison.
Police began investigating DeLand in November 2017 after receiving a complaint that the priest had inappropriate contact with a minor. At the time, DeLand was pastor at St. Agnes Parish in Tittabawassee Township, volunteered as a greeter at Freeland High School, and was so popular a local road was named after him.
Police arrested DeLand in February 2018 and he subsequently faced seven charges related to the alleged sexual assaults of two teens and one young man.
DeLand in September 2018 pleaded no contest to all charges. He later withdrew his pleas and went to trial on a few of the counts in March 2019 and was found not guilty by a jury. Some of those charges stemmed from allegations that DeLand had attempted to sexually assault a teen in the coatroom of St. Agnes Church during a May 2017 memorial service for classmate who had died by suicide.
The day after the acquittal, and with two more trials looming, DeLand pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct, gross indecency between two males, and manufacturing or distributing an imitation controlled substance.