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May 2, 2015

For more information:
Marlene Mulford: Office:(217) 698-8500
Cell: (217) 622-4996
Email: mmulford@dio.org

Father Robert “Bud” Degrand Removed Permanently As Pastor

SPRINGFIELD — Bishop Thomas John Paprocki spoke today with parishioners of Sigel, Neoga, Green Creek and Lillyville regarding the status of the case concerning Father Robert “Bud” DeGrand. Bishop Paprocki stated that progress on the case has been impeded consistently by Father DeGrand’s lack of cooperation. Bishop Paprocki reviewed with parishioners what has transpired:

  • In January 2014 the Diocesan Review Board unanimously found that the allegation against Father Robert DeGrand of clerical sexual misconduct with a minor was credible.
  • On September 20, 2014, Bishop Paprocki met with parishioners in Sigel and reported that Father DeGrand’s case was pending at the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
  • One week later, Bishop Paprocki received a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith referring the case back to him. The letter was dated September 10, 2014; however, due to the time it takes for mail to be sent from the Vatican by diplomatic channels through the Vatican’s Embassy in Washington, D.C., the letter did not arrive until after the September 20, 2014 meeting in Sigel.
  • A rumor circulated that the letter from the Vatican “cleared” Father DeGrand and dismissed the charges against him. That rumor was not and is not true. The Vatican letter stated that a canonical trial could not take place due to “prescription,” which is the terminology used in canon law to describe the more familiar “statute of limitations” in civil law, which in most cases, prevents initiating legal action because the passage of time since the allegation was filed exceeds a certain time frame. It should be noted that Bishop Paprocki requested that the Vatican issue a waiver of prescription allowing a trial to proceed to determine Father DeGrand’s guilt or innocence, however, Father DeGrand did not agree and instead insisted that the trial be barred.
  • Accordingly, the Vatican did not authorize a trial on the question of guilt or innocence of the allegations against Father DeGrand, but instead entrusted the matter to Bishop Paprocki’s “prudence and good judgment” as diocesan bishop and cited his authority under canon 223 of the Code of Canon Law “to deal with this case directly” to determine Father DeGrand’s “suitability for public ministry.”
  • The distinction in practice is that there would be no trial to impose a penalty, such as dismissal from the clerical state, but rather Bishop Paprocki was directed to make an administrative decision about whether it was suitable to return Father DeGrand to public ministry as pastor or remove him from public ministry for the protection of minors.
  • Since the Diocesan Review Board had made a unanimous finding that the allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor against Father DeGrand was credible, Bishop Paprocki informed Father DeGrand that he would have an opportunity to meet again with the Review Board to present any pertinent information to reverse the Review Board’s finding. Father DeGrand refused to meet again with the Review Board.
  • The Review Board asked both Father DeGrand and his accuser to take a lie-detector test. Father DeGrand’s accuser said he would be willing to take a lie-detector test. Father DeGrand refused to take a lie-detector test.
  • The Review Board asked Father DeGrand to return for a re-evaluation at Guest House in Minnesota, where he was treated for alcohol abuse in 1996. Father DeGrand refused. Instead he asked to see a psychiatrist in Pennsylvania. Bishop Paprocki agreed to this if Father DeGrand would release the results of the psychiatric report to the Review Board so they could advise Bishop Paprocki on his suitability for ministry. Father DeGrand refused to do so. Moreover, Father DeGrand did not fully disclose information to the psychiatrist, thus compromising the psychiatrist’s ability to render accurate conclusions.
  • While the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was “unable to document credible evidence of child abuse and/or neglect in the investigation,” the DCFS investigation addressed present risk to children, but DCFS conducted no investigation about the allegation from the 1980s. The Catholic Church has its own independent process with a higher standard of suitability for ministry.
  • In order to facilitate the canonical process to proceed without disruption, Catholic Church policies require the accused priest in such cases to be on administrative leave and to live away from his assignment while the case is pending. A private house in Springfield was arranged for Father DeGrand to use as his residence free of charge while on administrative leave, but Father DeGrand refused to move there. After Bishop Paprocki gave him a direct order to comply with the policy and move to the house, he refused, thereby breaking the promise of obedience to his bishop that he made when he was ordained. As a penalty for his disobedience, Father DeGrand was suspended and his compensation was reduced from full salary, which he had been receiving from the diocese since he was put on administrative leave, to a monthly stipend for room and board. The diocese continues to provide compensation for his support. The diocese is also paying his attorney’s fees. Father DeGrand continues to refuse to move and as a result will remain suspended from all ministries.

In light of Father DeGrand’s refusal to cooperate with the process to determine his suitability to return to ministry, Bishop Paprocki concluded that he has no choice but to remove him permanently as pastor of the parishes of St. Michael the Archangel in Sigel, St. Mary of the Assumption in Neoga, St. Mary Help of Christians in Green Creek and Sacred Heart in Lillyville, effective immediately. Based on the unanimous recommendation of the Diocesan Review Board and Bishop Paprocki’s own assessment of the information available indicating conclusively that it would not be responsible to allow Father DeGrand to return to public ministry.

Father Sunder Ery will continue as Parochial Administrator of these parishes.