A former Jacksonville priest who was removed from the priesthood after accusations of sexual abuse against a local parishioner is speaking out.
The Catholic Diocese of Springfield found that an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor by the Reverend Robert “Bud” DeGrand was credible in January 2014 for an incident that allegedly happened at Our Saviour Parish in 1980, the same year DeGrand was ordained.
Last week, Springfield Diocese Bishop Thomas Paprocki announced to parishioners in Eastern Illinois, where DeGrand was most recently stationed, that he will no longer serve as a pastor. No charges have ever been filed, and the Vatican declined to handle the case.
In a letter to the editor in the Effingham Daily News, DeGrand says he’s “disappointed with the treatment” he has received from the church. He said his appearance in front of a diocesan review board in December 2013 felt “like a witch trial” and a “farce”.
DeGrand says it’s “intrinsically unfair to expect an individual to defend a charge” that’s 30 years old. He says Paprocki went against the Vatican’s determination by imposing a penalty against him, in this case removing him as a pastor.
DeGrand says he has received letters of support from young men he mentored while in Jacksonville attesting to the service he provided and confirming “that there was never a hint of improper or inappropriate conduct.”
He also cites the Department of Children and Family Services report that it was unable to document credible evidence of child abuse and/or neglect in the investigation.
In his editorial, DeGrand says resigning his ministry and agreeing to relocate outside of the parishes where he’s lived in Eastern Illinois for 16 years would be “tantamount of an admission of guilt”, which is why he says he declined Paprocki’s request to do so.