Police hear from dozens more potential victims in priest sex abuse case

Published: Feb. 27, 2018 at 6:20 PM EST
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(02/27/18) - More potential victims have come forward after a Mid-Michigan Catholic priest was arrested and charged with sex crimes.

A Saginaw County District Court judge formally charged Father Robert DeLand, Jr. Monday with three crimes. The most serious is second degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15 year felony.

Tittabawassee Township Police Detective Brian Berg told ABC12 dozens of people have come forward since the public learned of DeLand's arrest.

The 71-year-old Catholic priest is accused of inappropriate sexual contact with a 17-year-old and a 21-year-old.

Before his arrest DeLand was assigned to St. Agnes Parish in Tittabawassee Township.

He also volunteered at Freeland High School.

Tuesday, the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw confirmed DeLand is no longer allowed on any diocesean property, including the church rectory where he lived.

He has a second home at Mallard Cove in Saginaw Township.

Police believe the inappropriate sexual behavior took place at the rectory and his condo, and possibly other places.

We asked the lead detective about why they chose to involve the teen in the undercover operation.

"To gain the evidence that we needed, and to stop these events from occurring and possibly every occurring again, by Mr. DeLand, we had to resort to organizing and strategizing a covert operation. We had a 17-year-old who was more than willing to cooperate, although it was very, very traumatic on him," Berg said.

Berg also said the teen's parents gave their okay to this operation.

Click on the 'Related Link' with this story to follow the coverage of Deland's arrest from the beginning.