The Diocese received media inquiries on April 6, 2018 following news of the rearrest of Father Robert J. Deland.
The Diocese issued the following response to media:
"It would be inappropriate for the Diocese of Saginaw to comment on the specifics due to the ongoing criminal investigation, as well as pending civil litigation.
The Diocese has and continues to encourage any victims of clergy abuse or anyone who knows a victim to make direct contact with law enforcement."
Diocese Clarifies Previous Statements Regarding Father Robert (Bob) DeLand
PRESS RELEASE MARCH 8, 2018
SAGINAW — The Diocese of Saginaw, in responding very quickly last week to questions raised by members of the media and members of the community, following criminal charges filed against Father Robert (Bob) DeLand, provided the following information:
“To the best of our knowledge, Father DeLand has not been subject to disciplinary action or accusations of priestly misconduct.”
While this information was believed to be accurate based on a preliminary review, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, considered it imperative to conduct a further, in-depth study of Father DeLand’s files.
Upon thorough examination of these files, the Diocese can find no evidence of a previous accusation against Father DeLand by a victim nor someone with direct knowledge of sexual abuse of a minor. The Diocese provides this additional information from Father DeLand’s files:
A letter written by Father DeLand in 1992 to Bishop Kenneth Untener, who was Bishop of Saginaw at the time, referred to rumors damaging to Father DeLand’s reputation. In the letter, Father DeLand stated he took issue with the rumors and denied wrongdoing.
Also, in 2005, the Diocese was called about a family member’s suspicion [the family member had no personal knowledge nor did she have knowledge of an allegation against Father DeLand]. She wondered whether her brother, who committed suicide in 1993, might have been molested by Father DeLand in the 1970's. In 2005, after an independent professional investigator completed a thorough assessment, the independent Diocesan Review Board, Bishop Robert Carlson, who was Bishop of Saginaw at the time, as well as the family agreed that the suspicion against Father DeLand was unfounded.
The Review Board, established in 2003, acts as a confidential, consultative body advising the bishop in his assessment of allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by priests or deacons, and in his assessment of a cleric's suitability for ministry. The Review Board is comprised of individuals with expertise beneficial to the protection of children, including the treatment of the sexual abuse of minors. The Review Board offers advice on cases, reviews on a regular basis the safe environment policies of the diocese, and recommends to the bishop any modifications, if appropriate. It is primarily comprised of persons who are not employed by the Diocese of Saginaw.
END OF PRESS RELEASE
NBC25/FOX66 Story entitled "Saginaw nun helps parishioners following arrest of Catholic priest"
ORIGINALLY AIRED ON MARCH 6, 2018
PRESS RELEASE MARCH 5, 2018
Bishop Cistone shares Message of Unity while at St. Agnes Parish this past weekend
SAGINAW — Despite having lost much of his voice due to radiation and chemotherapy treatments for lung cancer, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, addressed those gathered for weekend Masses at St. Agnes Parish in Freeland. He expressed his solidarity with those present during the painful days following the arrest and subsequent criminal charges filed against their pastor, Father Robert (Bob) DeLand.
“I am deeply distressed and broken hearted over these allegations,” Bishop Cistone shared with the faithful on both Saturday and Sunday. “Most especially, my thoughts, prayers and empathy go out to anyone who may have been victimized. We know that the trauma runs deep and long not only for the victims but for their family and loved ones as well. We stand ready to assist them.”
Bishop Cistone encouraged any victims to come forward to the civil authorities in charge of the investigation, and committed, once again, on behalf of the Diocese of Saginaw, to cooperate fully with law enforcement.
“ … being made aware of these allegations, like many of you, my emotions have moved back and forth from compassion, sadness and concern to anger, betrayal and a sincere desire for justice,” Bishop Cistone said. “I can only imagine the deep hurt and betrayal that you must feel.”
Addressing the need to provide for the ongoing spiritual care of St. Agnes parishioners, Bishop Cistone stated, “We are doing our best to appoint a parish administrator and sacramental ministry for weekend Masses and other parish liturgies in a timely manner. I need not tell you that we seriously struggle with a shortage of priests.”
“Though our trust is shaken, our Faith must remain strong,” Bishop Cistone said. “ … although we may be mistrustful of those who live and serve in the Church, we must never lose trust in the Lord or His Church.
“My dear brothers and sisters, you have my heart and my love. I weep with you and for you. I pledge my prayers and support during this painful time. Nevertheless, deep in my heart, I know that God is with us and our Lord, whose love is unconditional and everlasting, will see us through.”
Complete text of Bishop Cistone’s comments to the St. Agnes parish community may be found here
Community Gathers at St. Agnes Parish, Freeland
PRESS RELEASE MARCH 1, 2018
SAGINAW — In response to the needs and concerns of the community after criminal charges were issued against Father Robert (Bob) DeLand, a listening session was held at St. Agnes Parish Tuesday evening (Feb. 27) for members of the church and the greater Freeland community. Those gathered participated in a scheduled Stations of the Cross prayer event, and the listening session followed. It allowed those present to share and express deep feelings following the arrest of Father DeLand and the circumstances surrounding his arrest.
Youth were in the parish hall to share their own feelings and concerns. Their listening session was facilitated by the St. Agnes Faith Formation Director, Nicole Bakos, with support from the diocesan Director of Christian Service, Terri Grierson, and the Coordinator of Youth Ministry for the diocese, Mark Graveline, as well as a licensed counselor from Child & Family Services of Saginaw, Windi Sterling, LLMSW.
The listening session for adults was held in the church and facilitated by the coordinator of the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the Diocese of Saginaw, Sister Janet Fulgenzi, OP, PhD.
Sister Fulgenzi, OP, PhD, victim assistance/safe environment coordinator and a licensed clinical psychologist, will be at all scheduled Masses at St. Agnes Parish this weekend to listen and speak with anyone. Sister Fulgenzi also may be reached at email@example.com and 989.797.6682.
The protection of children and youth is a priority in the Diocese of Saginaw. The Office of Child and Youth Protection is guided by a policy which includes areas that assist the diocese in efforts to provide preventive measures designed to keep all of our children and youth safe from harm now and in the future.
The policy also contains a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. Additionally, there are guidelines for reconciliation, healing, and accountability. The Diocese of Saginaw's Policy for the Protection of Children and Young People can be viewed online at https://saginaw.org/child-and-youth-protection/office-child-and-youth-protection.
Father Deland, who was pastor at St. Agnes Parish in Freeland, as well as a judicial vicar for the Diocese of Saginaw, has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation in accord with diocesan policy.
Father Robert DeLand’s Ministry Restricted, May Not Publicly Present Himself as a Priest
PRESS RELEASE ISSUED MARCH 1, 2018
SAGINAW — The Diocese of Saginaw was made aware of the arrest of Rev. Robert (Bob) DeLand and his arraignment on criminal charges through the media on February 26, 2018. Because of the criminal charges filed against Father DeLand, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, immediately placed him on administrative leave from active ministry.
Bishop Cistone has mandated that Father DeLand must meet all the obligations of the courts, 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. This prohibits Father DeLand from going on school properties and participating in school and parish activities and functions.
In addition, Bishop Cistone has informed Father DeLand that he must refrain from wearing clerical garb or presenting himself publicly as a priest. He must also refrain from the exercise of public ministry and must notify the Office of the Bishop of any change of location.
These restrictions will remain in place throughout the entire criminal proceeding.
In accord with diocesan policy, an internal investigation will begin once the criminal investigation is completed, so as not to obstruct the criminal investigation.
Bishop Cistone has publicly expressed his commitment, on behalf of the Diocese of Saginaw, to cooperate fully with law enforcement in this most serious matter.
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PRESS RELEASE ISSUED FEB. 26, 2018
SAGINAW — The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw first learned about the arrest of the Rev. Robert J. DeLand this morning from local media who received a news release overnight from Tittabawassee Township Police. The Diocese of Saginaw had no previous knowledge of the police investigation or of these allegations.
Upon receiving the information from media this morning, the diocese requested a copy of the police report and warrant issued against Father DeLand, which we have not yet received.
“I am deeply distressed by this most serious situation,” said the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw. “Clearly, the diocese will cooperate fully with law enforcement and their investigation. I ask that you keep in your prayers Father DeLand and anyone who has brought forward allegations against him. My heartfelt prayers and support go out to the St. Agnes Parish family and the entire Freeland community.”
Father DeLand, who is pastor at St. Agnes Parish in Freeland, as well as a judicial vicar for the Diocese of Saginaw, will be placed on administrative leave during this investigation in accord with diocesan policy.
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Father Robert J. DeLand was ordained to the priesthood on June 17, 1973. He was first assigned as associate pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, Bay City from July 1973-July 1975, where he also served as chaplain of All Saints High School. He then served as director of the Office of Church Ministries and Vocations Director from July 1975 to July 1980. He was appointed associate pastor of St. Vincent de Paul, Bay City from 1976-78 and chaplain of Ss Peter and Paul High School from June 1978-August 1980; he served as co-director of the Permanent Diaconate Program from July 1976 to July 1980 and associate pastor of St. Stephen Parish, Saginaw from July 1980 to July 1981. He next was appointed Pastor, St. Boniface, Bay City from July 1981 to July 1987; pastor, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Essexville from July 1987 to July 1991. He served as chaplain of All Saints High School, Bay City from July 1984 until assigned to studies.
Father Deland was a graduate student at American University, Belgium, studying canon law, from September 1991 to July 1993, where he earned a license in canon law. Upon his return to the diocese of Saginaw, Father Deland worked in various capacities in the diocesan Tribunal. He was appointed pastor of Holy Family Parish, Saginaw from July 1993 to July 1995; then pastor, Ss. Peter and Paul, Saginaw from July 1995 to July 2005 and as chaplain at Nouvel Catholic Central High School from 1993 - 2005. He was appointed Judicial Vicar in 2001. He served as pastor at St. James Parish, Bay City from July 14, 2005 to July 1, 2011, where he served as chaplain of All Saints High School. He also led a variety of outreach programs, as well as national and international mission trips. Until being placed on administrative leave, Father Robert Deland served as Pastor of St. Agnes, Freeland since July 2011.
Note: The term “chaplain” was sometimes substituted with the word “pastor.”