Inside the Mind of a Homopredator Priest

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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 22, 2019   

Disturbing audio recordings of Fr. Robert DeLand preying on a victim

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Fr. Robert DeLand: To discover that you have some gay tendencies is a fine thing, because then you don't have to be so confused. Do you feel less confused? Do you?

That's the voice of Fr. Robert DeLand, now serving time in a Michigan prison for multiple counts of homosexual assault. Church Militant obtained these police audio recordings of Deland attempting to groom and seduce a teenage boy, trying to convince him he's gay.

Hello. I'm Michael Voris. Welcome to this Church Militant Special Report we're bringing you to give you a first-of-its-kind look into the twisted mind and methods of a homopredator priest.

Fr. Robert DeLand: So do you feel less confused about it, I mean … is it OK for you to say, "You know, I've definitely got some gay in me."

Victim: Yeah.

Fr. RD: Think that's good, to say that?

V: Hmm, yeah.

Fr. RD: Say it.

V: Not quite ready to say it, but …

What you are going to hear in this report is deeply disturbing, the voice of a priest, ordained to save souls, using his spiritual authority to destroy. But keep in mind, this very thing has happened thousands and thousands of times, as hurting or confused teenage boys are lured into a world of darkness by homopredator priests. It's just that we don't have police recordings of all of them.

This time, we do.

It's something too many bishops don't want to face, or want you thinking about, the actual truth of what goes on when a sick priest sets his sights on a younger male and begins the process of grooming him, preparing to seduce him.

Despite attempts by leaders like Chicago Cdl. Blase Cupich to deflect from this manifest evil by falsely appealing to consensual sex or sex involving two adults, the truth is all of it is a massive, massive abuse of trust and authority, which bishops don't want to address in any substantive manner. Likewise, they also want to totally deflect from the issue of homosexuality and pretend it has nothing to do with the problem.

However, in spite of the game-playing, the 2004 John Jay Report — and every single survey issued by the bishops since then — show 80% of all clergy sex abuse victims are male, and around that same number are post-pubescent — meaning physically mature teenage boys.

Image
Graph from Fr. Paul Sullins' report

The John Jay Report acknowledges this disparity, saying in its 2011 report:

National incidence studies have consistently shown that in general girls are three times more likely to be abused than boys. Despite this widely accepted statistic on victim gender, recent studies of sexual abuse of minors within institutions have shown a higher percentage of male than female victims.

The Ruth Institute published a groundbreaking report last year by sociologist Father Paul Sullins showing a near-100% correlation between the rise in gay priests and the rise in clergy sex abuse.

Comparing priests reporting a homosexual orientation with the incidence of sex abuse from the years 1955 to 1999, we see an almost perfect correlation between the rise in self-identified homosexual clergy and the rise in abuse.

The figures prove this is not a pedophile problem. This is a pederast problem, meaning a homosexual problem — the problem of homosexual predation on male teens.

Fr. RD: I love you.

V: Love you too, Fr. Bob.

Fr. RD: I know. What are we gonna do?

V: I don't know.

Fr. RD: No, what are we gonna do, really?

Father Robert DeLand was a priest of more than 40 years in the diocese of Saginaw, Michigan, former judicial vicar and senior priest on the marriage tribunal, enormously popular among local Catholics — Catholics who defended DeLand even as the news was beginning to dominate local media outlets.

DeLand is now serving two to 15 years in Jackson State Prison, largely as a result of the sting operation that caught him grooming this male teenage victim, offering him cash and drugs, and then attempting to sexually assault him.

The 17-year-old victim who testified in court during preliminary hearings was, at the time of DeLand's grooming, grieving the suicide of one of his best friends.

The victim had gotten in trouble with the law for underage drinking and was sentenced to community service. DeLand had worked his way into being a hallway monitor at Freeland High School and was popular among students. He used his work at the school as cover, hunting for male teenage victims.

It was here in 2017 that he singled the boy out, taking him under his wing.

It started with DeLand offering to pay for his grief counseling sessions and then suggesting that he complete his community service hours at his condo, where the priest could get him alone.

His parents, alarmed by the priest's latching on to their son, went to the police, who launched a secret investigation, wiring the victim so he could record his interactions with DeLand.

One of the tactics is to draw victims in on secret associations, emotionally or psychologically isolating them.

A recording from February 2018 reveals DeLand offering the 17-year-old cigarettes and encouraging him to lie to his parents, helping him conceal the smell of cigarette smoke on his clothes.

V: Actually it's probably not a good idea if I smoke, then I'll be going home.

Fr. RD: Really?

V: Yeah, now that I think about it. I have to be really careful.

Fr. RD: Oh, you mean they get upset?

V: I'll have it on my clothes and stuff. My parents don't smoke at the house. My mom smokes every couple days.

Fr. RD: You know what? Here, I know what you're gonna do. Febreze.

V: There we go.

Fr. RD: That'll work. OK, now pull it so we can have one.

V: All right.

Detective Brian Berg spearheaded the four-month covert operation that led to DeLand's arrest and conviction. Berg made clear the priest had other victims, and that he used homosexuality as his means of setting up his assaults.

Fr. RD: It's fine. It's just fine. It's who you are. If it's how God made you, big deal.

After the victim pretended to struggle with same-sex attraction, DeLand's conversations turned almost obsessively to the topic, encouraging him to experiment with partners.

Fr. RD: I mean, do you have any curiosity about doing it for real?

V: Yeah.

Fr. RD: Well, I think you ought to try to find somebody.

V: Yeah.

Fr. RD: You think you can? There are certainly guys right around school. I don't know if you're attracted to them. Attracted to anybody at school?

V: No.

Fr. RD: Nobody, huh? When was the last time you found yourself attracted to other guys? ... I think you would know how to investigate.

V: Yeah.

Fr. RD: You'd know how to do that.

...

Fr. RD: Any guy that you know that might be attracted to you? Any guys that you could figure that out with?

The priest repeatedly told the victim he loved him just as he is.

Fr. RD: Look. If you're gay, I don't care. And I have a feeling that there's some gayness in there. And you know what? I love you as you are. And so if you're gay, you're gay. Bring home a boyfriend, I'm gonna love him just as I love you.

...

Fr. RD: But you may also fall in love with some guy who you think is really special. And you know what? I don't care. And that ought to make you feel good. I don't care. I just want you to be happy.

...

Fr. RD: But I love you as you are, and I want you to love yourself as you are. Do you love yourself as you are? Do you?

V: Yeah.

Fr. RD: That's the best news I've ever heard.

He even used religion to reinforce the young man's supposed homosexuality.

Fr. RD: Say a prayer with me. Lord, I really ask you to ease the burdens of [victim], even, even to (unintelligible). But Lord, he's such a good person. You made him so good. And I want him to believe that. And I don't know that he does. I want him to really know that you made him good, and whatever he is, it's just fine. Because in the end, God, all he has to do is please You. Please himself. Help him to discover who he is, what he is. But especially, God, help him, help him to know his goodness. His good heart. Lord, take care of him please. Please, Lord, take care of him.

Conversations pushed him towards gay sex, and as Detective Berg noted, the priest encouraged him to watch gay porn, masturbate and call up the priest the next day to tell him all about it.

Fr. RD: Can you try it for me tonight and let's see what happens? In fact, after you're done with it, get a hold of me and tell me how you're feeling.

V: All right.

Fr. RD:  That'd be good?

V: Yeah

...

Fr. RD: So if you have time tonight, if you're home, do it again and see what it feels like again.

V: All right.

Fr. RD: Can you do it tonight again?

V: Yeah.

Fr. RD: All right. And then I'm gonna talk to you later, so I'm gonna ask you how that felt.

V: All right.

...

Fr. RD: So did you go online or did you just, uh, did you just do it?

V: I went online.

Fr. RD: Did you? Did that help?

V: Yeah. Not really sure if I'm in between or or if I'm full on one side or not, but ...

Fr. RD: Well, we're gonna find that out, aren't we?

V: Yeah.

DeLand would ask the teen intimate questions about his sexual leanings.

Fr. RD: Would you see yourself doing anal sex or would you see yourself sucking? I think we've arrived at the moment when it's time to find that out.

He did this all while lavishing on him attention and over-the-top displays of love and affection — the sort of affection a troubled teen might crave.

Fr. RD: I really love you. I mean, I, I really do.

V: Love you too, Fr. Bob.

Fr. RD: Yeah, I really do feel that from you.

...

Fr. RD: You're promising me that you're going to try to take more advantage of me.

V: Yes.

Fr. RD: I love you.

...

Fr. RD: You've made a friend for life. How about that? How about that? Can you imagine? And look at your eyes. They're actually smiling now, aren't they? I love you.

V: Love you too, Fr. Bob.

...

Fr. RD: Now, look at me. You don't have to look away. I just love you.

V: Love you too, Fr. Bob.

Fr. RD: I know you do.

...

Fr. RD: You're a good boy. You're a good boy.

V: Thank you, Fr. Bob.

Fr. RD: No, I mean, you really are.

...

Fr. RD: You know that the older you get, the more good-looking you get. I'm sure people tell you that.

V: Never heard that before, actually.

Fr. RD: Really?

V: Yeah.

Fr. RD: But it's really true. You're a good-looking man.

...

Fr. RD: I want you to believe it with all your heart. You're just a good man who's just troubled right now. But we can get you through this.

...

Fr. RD: If I had a son, I'd want him to be like you. Just a great heart. That's true. It's really true. And you, my friend, we're in this thing together forever.

...

Fr. RD: I love you more and more every day. I do.

V: Love you too, Fr. Bob.

Fr. RD: I know. But I love you more and more every day. And you're staying so close. Does that feel good to you? Because I just want you to know you have somebody in this world who will love you no matter what. Not gonna yell at you. Who's just gonna love you.

...

Fr. RD: What do we call each other? Well, I mean, it's more than a friendship. What is it? I don't know. Much more than a friendship, isn't it? Something so deep, so good.

DeLand even resorted to using the suicide of the victim's friend, Michael Dennis, in an attempt to become sexually intimate with the boy.

Fr. RD: Very interesting how you and I came together.

V: Yeah.

Fr. RD: Michael did a good thing in bringing us together. Didn't he?

It's worth noting that Michael Dennis was close to Father DeLand and spent a great deal of time with the homopredator priest just before turning a gun on himself.

On the audio recordings DeLand can be heard continually offering the victim money and gifts.

Fr. RD: And I'm getting you your money tomorrow for the weekend.

...

Fr. RD: You're an expensive person.

Although the victim was only 17 at the time, DeLand encouraged him to drink alcohol.

Fr. RD: Do you like … that's Scotch. That's Scotch. That's vodka. Do you like vodka? You like it? Have you ever had tequila?

V: No, I've never had tequila. All my friends have, though.

Fr. RD: Maybe you should try it.

...

Fr. RD: We're gonna get you drunk and you're gonna cry.

V: Yep.

Fr. RD: That sound good?

He even offered to buy him the drug ecstasy.

V: Are we getting them for just me or you or … ?

Fr. RD: I'm sorry, what are we getting?

V: Uh, the ecstasy.

Fr. RD: Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no. I'm watching you. Is that OK?

...

Fr. RD: My gosh. That's a pretty hard drug and I really don't want you to be doing that on your own.

V: Right.

Fr. RD: You know, sitting at home or something.

It was this drug the victim pretended to be high on on the night of Feb. 25, 2018 that led to DeLand making his move.

Fr. RD: Yes, you're tripping away, boy. That's good. You having fun?

V: Yeah.

Fr. RD: Good. I'm glad it's working.

...

Fr. RD: You're so high. Look at you. Oh, I love you so much.

V: Love you too, Fr. Bob.

Fr. RD: I love you.

...

Fr. RD: You don't need to know what time it is. You just need to learn, you just need to relax and to enjoy yourself, you hear me? Can you do that?

...

Fr. RD: You and I are going to travel. Would you like that? I'd like that. Show you some of the good things in our world. So you don't have to imagine it.

...

Fr. RD: All right. How about I give you a back rub? You wanna lay down, don't you?

V: Yeah.

Fr. RD (rubbing victim's back): That feel good or no? It does?

He gave him a back rub in his bedroom before attempting to sexually assault him, causing the victim to flee the condo to safety, and leading to Fr. DeLand's immediate arrest.

V: So weird. I'm starting to shake. Yeah, he started rubbing my a** and my hand … . He started rubbing my hand on top of my crotch.

The case of Fr. DeLand can be multiplied many times over, with many thousands more victims groomed by homosexual predators like DeLand, who target vulnerable young men, lavish them with affection and attention, offer them gifts and push them to experiment with homosexuality, taking sexual advantage of them — thousands of young men used and abused and left scarred for life, others unable to cope, committing suicide, all while bishops continue to ignore the specific crisis of homosexuals in the clergy, as well as within their own ranks.

They minimize the harms, excusing and rationalizing gay priests, blaming clericalism or access or any number of canards, rather than focus on the actual problem of deeply disturbed and twisted men in their own clerical ranks. They sit silent, and in some cases even support men like Fr. James Martin's parading of homosexuality as perfectly normal.

Until the bishops start confronting this problem head on, many more Fr. DeLands will continue to groom and abuse many more male victims, leading to more ruined lives, loss of faith on a massive scale, loss of trust from the laity and a Church crippled by a crisis the bishops refuse to name.

Watch our exclusive interview with Detective Brian Berg.

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