Father Robert DeLand withdraws pleas, heading to trial next year

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SAGINAW (WJRT) (9/30/2018) - A controversial sentencing agreement for the Rev. Robert DeLand is off after a judge declined to go along with it.

That led the Saginaw County Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing three people to withdraw his no contest pleas and head to trial next year, according to defense attorney Alan Crawford.

Circuit Court Judge Darnell Jackson declined to abide by a sentencing agreement reached with prosecutors in September that would have kept DeLand out of prison.

In pleading no contest to six felonies and one misdemeanor, DeLand agreed to spend one year in jail, five years of probation and registering as a sex offender.

But an ABC 12 investigation uncovered that the agreement included prison sentencing guidelines that may have been scored too low.

Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Gaertner, who led the investigation into DeLand this year, could not be reached for comment Sunday evening.

DeLand is accused of sexually assaulting three males age 17, 18 and 21 over the past few years at his private condominium on Mallard Cove in Saginaw Township and in the rectory at St. Agnes Parish in Freeland, where he was senior pastor.

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