IL--Springfield bishop pays predator priest's lawyer
For immediate release: Monday, May 4
Springfield’s Catholic bishop is using church funds to pay the legal fees for a credibly accused and permanently removed predator priest.
We’re glad that, if Bishop Thomas Paprocki keeps his promise, Fr. Robert “Bud” DeGrand won’t ever work in a parish again. But Paprocki has handled this case irresponsibly from the beginning and he continues to do so now.
We urge Paprocki to
--stop using parishioner donations to buy a lawyer for an ousted pedophile priest
--put notices about Fr. DeGrand and the credible accusations against him on the diocesan website
--do the same with parish bulletins and websites across the diocese
--beg, in each notice, all victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police
--visit each church where Fr. DeGrand has worked, making the same plea in person, and
--turn over, to law enforcement agencies in every county where he worked, his personnel file.
Taking these simple, inexpensive and proven prevention steps will boost the chances that Fr. DeGrand could be prosecuted, convicted and kept away from kids.
Taking these steps will also be a way to mitigate the damage caused by Paprocki’s reckless and callous secrecy in this case. He kept the allegations hidden for weeks, giving Fr. DeGrand plenty of time to destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, discredit whistleblowers, fabricate alibis and even potentially flee the country.
(Remember: Every day a child sex abuse report is kept hidden, a child sex abuser is free to keep abusing. Every day of secrecy and delay makes it harder for police and prosecutors to pursue child predators.)
And 1.5 years ago, Paprocki refused to even respond to our pleas that he personally go to parishes in Jacksonville, Winchester, Bluffs, Granite City, and other places where Fr. DeGrand worked to seek out and offer help to others who may have been assaulted by the priest.
Current and former Springfield area Catholic employees should show the kind of courage and compassion Paprocki refuses to show. They should call police, prosecutors and groups like ours with any information or suspicions they may have about Fr. DeGrand.
And anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. DeGrand or cover ups by Paprocki should summon the strength to do the same.
That’s how kids will be kept safe. That’s how wrongdoers will be punished. That’s how wrongdoing will be deterred. And that’s how long suffering child sex abuse victims will be healed.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)