Lawsuit: Priest charged with sex crimes groped teen

March 13, 2018

Roman Catholic priest Robert Deland is arraigned Monday, Feb.26, 2018, on one count of attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of second-degree sexual conduct and one count of gross indecency between male persons via video from the Saginaw County Jail in the courtroom of Saginaw County District Judge M. Randall Jurrens in Saginaw, Mich. (Jacob Hamilton/The Saginaw News via AP)

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.

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.

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.

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