A former priest accused of sexually abusing young men has been sentenced.
Robert DeLand was sentenced to 2-15 years in prison, and 5 years probation.
This after he entered a no contest plea to multiple charges including: criminal sexual conduct in the second degree, gross indecency between males, and imitation of a controlled substance manufacture and distribution, before jury selection could begin on his second trial in March of this year.
“It wasn’t an unexpected sentence. It was a fair and appropriate resolution within the applicable guideline range,” Prosecutor Melissa Hover said.
Hoover hopes DeLand’s punishment brings the victims some level of justice and healing.
“There have been times where they have been hesitant, but they have powered through and they have persevered through this whole thing. And it is truly an honor and privilege to work with these young men,” Hoover said.
The father of one of the victims sat with TV5 after the proceedings, he said he wished the former priest was sentenced to more time.
“I think he’s a monster. I hope that he finds what he needs in prison. I hope that he can own up to what he’s done, and I feel he owes everyone an apology,” the father said.
Walter Hurley, the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Saginaw, said he met with DeLand just a few days before the sentencing.
“I would say he certainly was accepting of that reality. I mean that was the agreement that he had made, the plea bargain that he had worked out. And so, he was accepting that as a reality,” Hurley said.
“I’m very sorry that the community has gone through all of this, the embarrassment. I’m very sorry about that,” DeLand said.
DeLand was once a pastor at St. Agnes Church in Freeland, he also volunteered at Freeland High School.
He was arrested in 2018 when three men came forward accusing him of sexual assault and other crimes.
DeLand must register pursuant to the sex offender registration act.
“The restrictions that are currently placed on him will remain in place permanently, and those restrictions would mean forbidding him from presenting himself as a priest or exercising any public ministry,” Hurley said.
Now that DeLand is behind bars, Hurley hopes that the healing process can begin.
“These months have been very difficult months for everyone, and they’ve been difficult for victims and for their families, and for the whole community as well. And I would just hope that everybody would pray for victims and their families,” Hurley said.
DeLand was found not guilty in his first trial.