Lawsuit: Priest charged with sex crimes groped teen

The allegations are in a lawsuit filed Monday against the Rev. Robert DeLand. (Photo: Saginaw County Sheriff's Office)

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — A teenager says a Michigan priest charged with sex crimes fondled him, provided cash and requested that they "party together" with drugs.

RELATED LINK: Saginaw County priest wants more time to prepare sexual assault case

The allegations are in a lawsuit filed Monday against the Rev. Robert DeLand.

They match some allegations made by authorities when the 71-year-old priest was charged last month with criminal sexual conduct in Saginaw County.

The lawsuit says the boy met DeLand last May at a funeral. DeLand later invited him to perform community service at St. Agnes Church in Freeland.

Also named as a defendant in the lawsuit was Bishop Joseph Cistone, saying the teen came forward to the bishop about DeLand's behavior.

The lawsuit claims Cistone took no action after being notified of the allegations.

The lawsuit seeks $75,000 in damages.

By the end of the year, DeLand was calling or texting the teen at least 17 times a day, according to the lawsuit. The boy says he fled the priest's apartment in February following unwelcome touching.

The priest has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges.

The lawsuit also names Saginaw Catholic Bishop The Most Reverend Joseph Cistone.

The suit alleges bishop failed to properly supervise DeLand and failed to investigate allegations of abuse.

In a statement released by the Saginaw Catholic diocese after learning of the criminal charges filed against DeLand, a woman wondered whether her brother, who committed suicide in 1993, might have been molested by father DeLand in the 1970's

After a review by the diocese, the then bishop and his family agreed it was unfounded.

But prosecutors say police would have liked to have known about any previous incidents that had been reported to the diocese.

Assistant Prosecutor Mark Gaertner "It raises concerns whenever something like that happens, it should be turned over to law enforcement. We'd like to talk to that woman, there may be statute of limitations concerns, but that won't deter us from talking to those people".

Here is the full lawsuit.


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