Fr. Robert DeLand to be Released Early, SNAP Responds
A Catholic priest who was sentenced to prison in Michigan after multiple men came forward to accuse him of sexual assault and grooming is being released early from prison. Given this man’s apparent pattern of criminal sexual conduct, we hope that Church officials will keep tabs on him and inform the communities where he will live and work about the danger he represents.
Fr. Robert DeLand was first accused of abuse decades ago. Diocesan officials in Saginaw were aware of claims against him as early as 1992 and even “investigated” allegations against him in 2005. The priest was finally taken off the streets in 2018 thanks to the work of police and prosecutors in Michigan.
Based on media coverage of his history, it appears to us that Fr. DeLand is a serial abuser. He has been the subject of abuse allegations over the course of three decades and was abusing vulnerable young men as recently as 2017. Given this background, we are concerned that he will once again find, groom, and prey on young men now that he is being released.
There is no magic age at which a perpetrator stops abusing, so we hope that the priest's age was not a factor in his early release. We are at least glad that he will be forced to register as a sex offender which is one way that communities can be better informed about abusers and better able to protect children and the vulnerable.
We believe that Catholic officials in Saginaw owe it to the victims of Fr. DeLand and to their current parishioners and parents to keep track of the priest's movements and to ensure that local communities are warned about his history. Too many Catholic clerics have been able to escape justice, move to unsuspecting communities, and continue abusing. That cannot be allowed to happen with Fr. DeLand.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)