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January 13, 2014

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Kathie Sass: (217) 698-8500


Diocesan Review Board Makes Preliminary Finding That Allegation against Father Robert DeGrand Is Credible

SPRINGFIELD — The preliminary investigation of an allegation of clerical sexual misconduct with a minor said to have occurred over 30 years ago has been concluded in the case of Father Robert “Bud” DeGrand. After examining the results of the preliminary investigation, the Diocesan Review Board unanimously found that the allegation against Father Robert DeGrand is credible.

Father DeGrand is pastor of parishes in Sigel, Neoga, Green Creek and Lillyville, in the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

In light of the review board’s finding, the case will proceed to the next steps of the process in keeping with the Code of Canon Law, withthe diocesan Policy on Sexual Abuse of Minors by Church Personnel, with the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons, issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and with the procedural norms “de gravioribus delictis” (concerning more serious crimes against faith and morals) issued in conjunction with the motu proprio“Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela,” promulgated in 2001 by Pope John Paul II and revised by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

As required by these norms, the case will now be forwarded to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for further proceedings.

It should be noted that the finding of the Diocesan Review Board is not a final conclusion about guilt or innocence, but addresses whether the allegation by the accuser and other information are sufficient to reasonably suspect that the accused has engaged in sexual abuse of a minor. The function of the Diocesan Review Board in church law is analogous to a grand jury in civil law, which investigates potential criminal conduct and determines whether criminal charges should be brought. However, a grand jury does not conduct the actual criminal trial or make a final determination of guilt or innocence.

Since cases involving allegations of clerical sexual abuse of minors are among the more grave offenses reserved to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the case will now proceed towards a final determination according to the norms and instructions from the Vatican.

In the meantime, Father DeGrand will continue to be on leave from public ministry and from his ecclesiastical residence. Father Sunder Ery will continue as temporary parochial administrator of the parishes Sigel, Neoga, Green Creek and Lillyville while the process is pending.

As required by the diocesan policy, the diocese has notified the Morgan County States Attorney, where the alleged abuse is said to have occurred, and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

After an investigation of the report, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has determined it “was unable to document credible evidence of child abuse and/or neglect in the investigation.” This means essentially that children are not presently at risk, but no definitive conclusion could be reached about the allegation from the 1980s.

The church’s determination of the allegation will depend on the outcome of the Vatican’s process.

For more information about the diocesan policies and safe environment programs, visit the diocesan website at www.dio.org/safeenvironment.

The Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois is 130 parishes in 28 counties in central Illinois.

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