Bishop Cistone releases statement after police raid - WNEM TV 5

Bishop Cistone releases statement after police raid

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Bishop Joseph R. Cistone  (File photo) Bishop Joseph R. Cistone (File photo)
Source: WNEM Source: WNEM

Police in Michigan have raided three properties of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw following the recent arrest of a priest accused of committing sex crimes.

Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Gaertner said the warrants were executed Thursday after the diocese didn't cooperate with authorities in a timely manner. Gaertner said he couldn't disclose what officers were searching for. The searches were conducted at the diocesan offices, the home of Bishop Joseph Cistone and the rectory at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw.

"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 utilize other investigative tools, including search warrants."

The Rev. Robert DeLand of Freeland was charged Feb. 26 with criminal sexual conduct for allegedly assaulting two males, ages 21 and 17. The 71-year-old DeLand has pleaded not guilty. The diocese has suspended him and a second priest who hasn't been charged.

Cistone said DeLand 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 with any change of location.”

Then earlier this month the diocese suspended another priest, Father Ronald Dombrowski, after sexual assault allegations.

The diocese said nothing  has been determined yet, but it immediately suspended Dombrowski as a precautionary measure.

After the police raids, Cistone release this statement on March 23:

As you are aware, yesterday, March 22, the Diocese was served with a search warrant. This warrant included the Diocesan offices and Center for Ministry, the Bishop's residence, and the Cathedral. 

I understand this news is distressing and disheartening for the greater community and most especially our Catholic faithful.

The Diocese has made a sincere effort to cooperate with law enforcement to date and will continue to do so moving forward.

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