Faith-based probation order led to teenager's abuse by priest

Faith-based probation order led to teenager's abuse by priest March 17, 2018

After a 17-year-old Michigan teen had been ordered by a court to complete community service under the supervision of a Catholic priest – Fr Robert DeLand, above – he fell victim to sexual abuse by the priest.
DeLand, according to this report, was subsequently arrested late last month for sexually assaulting the teen as well as a 21-year-old man.

The 17-year-old assault victim, after reporting sexually predatory “grooming” behavior by DeLand to police, helped officers with an undercover sting that led to the priest’s arrest.
He has now filed a lawsuit against DeLand, Bishop Joseph Cistone, and the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw.
DeLand has been charged with assaulting the two at his home in Saginaw Township. Since then, the prosecutor’s office has received numerous tips related to alleged abuse going back to the 1970s.
Throughout his priesthood, DeLand, 71, has occupied a variety of high-ranking roles in the Diocese of Saginaw. At one point, which according to the diocese was between 1975 and 1980, DeLand was the diocesan vocations director – the priest in charge of recruiting and screening young men for the priesthood.
At the time of his arrest for attempt to commit criminal sexual conduct in the second degree and gross indecency between males, DeLand was the pastor of St Agnes in Freeland, Michigan and the judicial vicar for the diocese.
According to the lawsuit, DeLand showed the 17-year-old victim gay pornography and groped him as part of the “grooming” behaviours. The lawsuit, Linden v Saginaw et al, was filed on Monday in Michigan Eastern District Court.
Court filing indicates that DeLand:

Bought him an expensive ‘vape’ machine; invited the teen to his home to smoke; and made inappropriate physical contact … including back rubs, hugs and groping of the buttocks.

St Agnes has previously posted on Facebook many photos of DeLand with children, including one with the caption:

For teenagers, Father Bob DeLand is a lot like Santa Claus. He sees you when you’re sleepy. He knows when you’re awake…

At a press conference discussing DeLand’s arrest, an unidentified official said police were being “inundated” with complaints about DeLand going back 30 years.
Before his arrest, DeLand was on the board of an anti-child abuse organisation.
This is not the first time that abuse has occurred under Bishop Cistone’s leadership.
As an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, Cistone allegedly oversaw the shredding of documents containing the names of suspected pedophile priests and lied about it to a grand jury, according to court documents.
On March 8, the Diocese of Saginaw released a statement admitting the inaccuracy of it original claim that:

To the best of our knowledge, Father DeLand has not been subject to disciplinary action or accusations of priestly misconduct.

Saginaw Township and its neighboring Tittabawassee Township have assembled a team to deal with new tips and information relating to the priest’s abusive behaviour.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • AgentCormac

    Hang the bastard up by his balls. Either that or put him in a cell for 30 minutes with the cop in the background. Personally, I’m not quite sure which of them I’d be most afraid of.

  • Stephen Mynett

    Questions should also be asked about the court/judge who ordered the community service placing the lad in the control of a priest.
    While it may seem wrong to discriminate against a complete organisation, until the churches, especially the RCC, can show they are making real progress in rooting out abuse they cannot be trusted.

  • Ed

    What is the probability that a catholic priest will sexually abuse / rape a child under his supervision. 1,5, 10, 25, 50%? Certainly not 100%. Not likely to be 50% either. 25%? Now that’s probably somewhere near the mark I would say based upon the number of reports despite the institutionalised directive to cover up the abuse and considering that enforced celibacy must be an intolerable burden. Indeed, there is at least one eminent QC, expert at dealing with human rights issues, who is in print asserting the Catholic heirarchy consider sex with children their just reward for the sacrifices the priesthood make financially and maritally.

  • Lurker111

    @Stephen Mynett:
    “While it may seem wrong to discriminate against a complete organisation, until the churches, especially the RCC, can show they are making real progress in rooting out abuse they cannot be trusted.”
    Okay as far as it goes, but the RCC markets myth and lies as fact, and for money. How much trust, under the best of circumstances, do they deserve?

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Why isn’t this a case of violation of church and state?
    Even if the kid was Catholic, it’s not right that the state should commit his safety to a particular religious sect.

  • andym

    @ CMB I wondered too. It seems there’s a similar challenge going on now.
    http://skepticreview.com/tag/humanist-recovery-programs/

  • Broga

    OT but worth it I hope. I get to p3 in the Sunday Times and read: “Despite Hawking’s atheism the Cambridge service will be held in one of the city’s churches ……The Westminster Abbey service will be a religious one with prayers and hymns.” Still with me. Hang in there. More delights to come.
    I plough on till I get to pp24 and 25 devoted to one of my heroes. Amidst the branes ,quantum mysteries, worldsheets, super-symmetry, string theory etc I discover “You can’t actually get an answer out of Steven regarding philosophy beyond the realms of science.” Yup! You know where we are heading and I read:
    “He’s delving into realms that really do matter to thinking people and in a way that can have a very disturbing effect on them …….and he’s not competent” The quotes are from the devout first Mrs Hawking.
    The good Christian Mrs Hawking, quoted by Bryan Appleyard, “started criticising him fiercely even before I turned on my tape recorder…….he had become, she said, more aggressively anti-religious. He would not be in the same room as her devout friends.”
    “There were accusations, denied by both, that Elaine had abused him horribly.”
    Despite Hawking’s aggressive atheism the Church rushes to accommodate him, and get valuable publicity for its fading faith.

  • andym

    @ Broga. Appleyard himself is a devout catholic.

  • Broga

    andym : Interesting. I suppose as a professional journalist he reported objectively. If so, we could do with more like him reporting on religion.

  • John the Drunkard

    The 17-year-old had been ordered by a court to complete community service under DeLand.

    That appears to be the only information about the most scandalous aspect of the whole story. The boy is a minor, so we shouldn’t pry into his legal problems. But how can a court ‘order’ anyone into the grasp of a Catholic priest?
    In the U.S., ‘community service’ usually means picking up trash by the roadside for a specified number of hours.

  • 1859

    As long as the requirement of rcc priests to be celibate remains in force, all priests will be seen as potential paedophiles. They have had it coming for years. Finally people are now not ashamed to speak out about what happened to them, and the crime of paedophilia is now seen, rightly, as one of the most cruel and foul of crimes any adult can commit against a minor. But just think of the decades, the centuries, the millennia of sexual abuse perpetrated by so-called celibate priests and ‘holy’ men that must have happened but of which there is now no trace. I hope this never-ending paedophile scandal is the poison that finally kills off the rcc.