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Rev. Robert “Father Bob” DeLand

Reverend Robert “Father Bob” DeLand, Jr. was born on February 23, 1947, and ordained by the Catholic Church on June 17, 1973. 

During his time in the clergy, Father DeLand served in the following Michigan ministries: 

  • Associate pastor, St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, Bay City (1973-1975).
  • Chaplain, All Saints High School, Bay City (1973-1975).
  • Director of the Office of Church Ministries and Vocations Director, All Saints High School, Bay City (1975-1980).
  • Associate pastor, St. Vincent de Paul, Bay City (1976-1978).
  • Co-Director, Permanent Diaconate Program (1976-1980).
  • Chaplain, St. Peter and Paul High School, Saginaw (1978-1980).
  • Associate pastor, St. Stephen Parish, Saginaw (1980-1981).
  • Pastor, St. Boniface, Bay City (1981-1987).
  • Pastor, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Essexville (July 1987 – July 1991).
  • Chaplain, All Saints High School, Bay City (1984-1991).
  • Pastor, Holy Family Parish, Saginaw (1993-1995).
  • Pastor, St. Peter and Paul Church, Saginaw (1995-2005).
  • Chaplain, Nouvel Catholic Central High School, Saginaw (1993-2005).
  • Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Saginaw (2001-2018).
  • Pastor, St. James Parish, Bay City (2005-2011).
  • Chaplain, All Saints High School, Bay City (2005-2011).
  • Pastor, St. Agnes Church, Freeland (2011-2018).

Father DeLand also led various outreach programs associated with All Saints High School, where he coordinated several national and international mission trips.

In 2017, the Saginaw police received complaints of sexual assault against Father DeLand. At the time, he served as pastor at St. Agnes Parish in Tittabawassee Township. He was also a greeter at Freeland High School and was a popular, well-loved figure in the community.

A year later, in February 2018, Father DeLand was arrested and placed on administrative leave for sexually assaulting a 21-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy in his home. The charges included:

  • Second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
  • Attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct causing personal injury.
  • Gross indecency between male persons.

He was rearrested on April 5, 2018, and charged with multiple new counts, including:

  • Criminal sexual conduct causing personal injury.
  • Assault with intent to commit second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
  • Manufacturing or distributing an imitation controlled substance.
  • Selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor. 

In September 2018, Father DeLand pleaded no contest to all the charges; however, he later withdrew and went to trial in March 2019. At trial, the jury found him not guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage boy at a St. Agnes Church memorial service in May 2017. However, the day after his acquittal—with two more trials looming—Father DeLand again pleaded no contest to the remaining charges.

In April 2019, Saginaw County Chief Circuit Court Judge Darnell Jackson sentenced Father DeLand to up to 15 years in prison. The Diocese of Saginaw permanently removed Father DeLand from all priestly duties on April 25, 2019.  

At a parole hearing in December 2020, Father Deland admitted to committing the offenses he’d been convicted of and was granted parole on April 27, 2021. He remained on parole until April 27, 2023, and is now a registered sex offender.

The Roman Catholic Church laicized Father Deland on September 7, 2022. However, several civil lawsuits since his arrest suggest that the Saginaw Diocese knew of his sexual abuse as early as 1992 and did nothing to stop it. Despite being formally reviewed by the Diocesan Review Board in 2006, Father DeLand remained in full ministry—without restrictions—until his 2019 conviction.

Over the years, the number of Father DeLand’s victims has continued to grow, with allegations of sexual abuse stretching back nearly three decades—all involving survivors who were minors at the time.

At Sommers Schwartz, we are committed to stopping sexual predators like Father DeLand. Our firm has successfully prosecuted high-profile offenders such as Dr. Larry Nassar—Michigan State University and USAG team physician—and Dr. Robert Anderson, who sexually abused students, athletes, and other patients for over thirty-five years at the University of Michigan. And we want to help you, too. If you’re a survivor of ecclesiastical sexual abuse, contact personal injury attorneys Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller, Matthew Curtis, or Jay Yasso for a free consultation, and let Sommers Schwartz pursue your case with the compassion, empathy, and sensitivity your story deserves.

Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller

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Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller

Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller represents injury victims in personal injury and medical malpractice claims. She also represents individuals in cases against those who have committed horrific acts of sexual assault.



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