New alleged victim testifies in court against Father DeLand - WNEM TV 5

New alleged victim testifies in court against Father DeLand

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Robert DeLand (Source: Saginaw County Jail) Robert DeLand (Source: Saginaw County Jail)
SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Father Robert DeLand is back before a judge for the second time this week.

The priest is already heading to trial on several sexual misconduct charges.

A judge is hearing testimony from a new alleged victim describing how DeLand inappropriately touched him while he was at school.

“I felt like I was in danger,” said one accuser in court.

Another accuser testified against Father Robert DeLand in court. This time an 18-year-old man claimed DeLand tried to grab him in the groin.

He said it happened during a memorial at St. Agnes Church in Freeland last May.

“He was like ‘hey can you come back here for a second’ and we went back and he was asking me about it while he was lifting his hand and he didn’t go in for his regular handshake,” the accuser said. “He went a little bit lower than what I’m used to.”

The accuser said he pushed DeLand’s hand away at the last second.

“I felt very upset, angry,” the accuser said. “I didn’t understand what was happening or why.”

The man said he got away from DeLand and left the church with his father, who also took the stand.

He was emotional as he told the court what he wanted to do to DeLand.

“I wanted to, I wanted to confront him and take care of the situation right there and then,” the accuser said.

The hearing involved a criminal charge of attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct with intent.

DeLand’s attorney, Alan Crawford, argued that charge should be dismissed.

“We’re talking about a handshake,” Crawford said. “And if you’re too close to someone and you’re bringing your hand up, you hit somebody on your thigh and hit them on their stomach are you going to be charged with assault of criminal sexual conduct?”

But as was the case with the other prelims this week, this judge found probable cause to take the charge to trail.

In all DeLand faces five felonies and one misdemeanor for his alleged crimes.

Assistant Saginaw County Prosecutor Mark Gaertner said he’s ready to head to trail.

“We’re pleased that the cases are bound over,” Gaertner said. “We’re going to pursue justice in the circuit court now.”

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