Sommers Schwartz Investigates Allegations Against Former Priest Robert DeLand, Supports Abuse Survivors

Sommers Schwartz Investigates Allegations Against Former Priest Robert DeLand, Supports Abuse Survivors

Oct 18, 2023

Detroit, Michigan – Sommers Schwartz, PC, a leading litigation and clergy abuse law firm based in Michigan, is conducting an investigation into the claims surrounding Reverend Robert “Father Bob” DeLand, Jr., a former Catholic priest from the Saginaw Diocese. Born in 1947 and ordained by the Catholic Church in 1973, Father DeLand served in various ministries within Michigan over the span of his clergy career.

Despite his many years of service, Father DeLand’s ministry was marred by allegations of sexual assault in 2017. At the time, he held the position of pastor at St. Agnes Parish in Tittabawassee Township and was also a greeter at Freeland High School. His arrest in February 2018 followed complaints of sexual assault against a 21-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy. The charges ranged from second-degree criminal sexual conduct to gross indecency.

After a series of legal proceedings, Father DeLand pleaded no contest to all the charges. He was sentenced by Saginaw County Chief Circuit Court Judge Darnell Jackson in April 2019 to up to 15 years in prison. The Diocese of Saginaw permanently removed Father DeLand from all priestly duties later the same month.

Father DeLand’s convictions were not the end of his legal woes. Several civil lawsuits have alleged that the Saginaw Diocese knew of his sexual abuse as early as 1992 and took no action to stop it. Although formally reviewed by the Diocesan Review Board in 2006, Father DeLand remained in full ministry, without restrictions, until his conviction in 2019.

As time has passed, the number of Father DeLand’s victims has continued to grow, with allegations of sexual abuse stretching back nearly three decades. All the allegations involve survivors who were minors at the time.

Sommers Schwartz, PC attorneys Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller, Matthew Curtis, and Jay Yasso, are fighting to support and assist survivors of sexual abuse. The firm has a track record of obtaining millions from high-profile predators such as Dr. Larry Nassar—Michigan State University and USAG team physician—and Dr. Robert Anderson, who sexually abused students, athletes, and other patients for over thirty-five years at the University of Michigan.

The State of Michigan VS DELAND, ROBERT JOHN, Jr.
Saginaw County District Court
Case Number: 18-002621-SM

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