Police raid Michigan diocese while priest faces sex charges

Police raid Michigan diocese while priest faces sex charges

Police raid Michigan diocese while priest faces sex charges

Mugshot of Father Robert DeLand. (Credit: Saginaw County Sheriff's Office.)

Police in Michigan raided the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, the residence of the bishop and a rectory Thursday following the recent arrest of a priest accused of committing sex crimes.

SAGINAW, Michigan — Police in Michigan raided the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, the residence of the bishop and a rectory Thursday following the recent arrest of a priest accused of committing sex crimes.

Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Gaertner said he could not disclose what officers were after in the searches conducted at the diocesan offices, the home of Bishop Joseph Cistone and the rectory at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw.

Cistone and the diocese have not carried through on promises to support investigators looking into sexual abuse allegations against Father Robert DeLand and others in the diocese, the prosecutor said.

“Contrary to the statements of the diocese and the bishop that they would fully cooperate with law enforcement, they did not,” Gaertner said. “Therefore it was necessary for law enforcement to use other investigative tools, including search warrants.”

Earlier this month, prosecutors formed a team to coordinate and investigate allegations of abuse within the diocese. Messages seeking comment were left for a diocesan representative.

RELATED: Bishop urges victims to come forward after priest charged

DeLand, 71, pastor at St. Agnes Church in Freeland, was charged Feb. 26 with criminal sexual conduct for allegedly assaulting two males, ages 21 and 17. DeLand has pleaded not guilty.

DeLand has been suspended from the priesthood while legal proceedings against him continue. He also is prohibited from having contact with anyone under age 21. He’s free on bond with a GPS tether.

In a lawsuit filed this month against DeLand, the teenager said the priest fondled him, provided cash and requested that they “party together” with drugs. It said the boy met DeLand last May at a funeral and by the end of the year, the priest was calling or texting the teen at least 17 times a day. The boy said he fled the priest’s apartment in February following unwelcome touching.

According to a March 17 statement on the diocesan website, Father Ronald J. Dombrowski, 72, was suspended from priestly ministry by Cistone after a self-identified victim contacted the diocese with a complaint on March 15. The alleged sexual abuse took place when the victim was a minor, although the accuser is now an adult. The diocese said it reported the allegation to the civil authorities.

Crux staff contributed to this report.

Latest Stories

Most Read

Crux needs your monthly support

to keep delivering the best in smart, wired and independent Catholic news.

Latest Stories