Protecting a Homopredator Priest

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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 30, 2019   

Attacking the investigators

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A highly decorated police officer — nearly 40 years on the force, who caught and jailed a homopredator priest — now jobless and ostracized for getting the predator behind bars. And why? Because a small town was more interested in protecting the priest than protecting the victim.

Hello, I'm Michael Voris. Welcome to this Church Militant Special Report, where we'll take a look at the blowback one detective is suffering after exposing and capturing a homopredator priest.

Detective Brian Berg is formerly chief detective of Tittabawassee Township, a small community near Saginaw, Michigan, where he's served since 1999. He spearheaded the covert operation leading to the arrest and conviction of Fr. Robert DeLand, now behind bars for multiple counts of homosexual assault.

When Berg launched his investigation in 2017, he knew he was going up against a powerful opponent — the enormously popular Fr. DeLand, a cleric of more than 40 years, judicial vicar, senior priest on the marriage tribunal, loved by parishioners and students alike, backed and supported by the bishop and diocese.

What Berg did not expect was to face strong opposition from his own team.

During his four-month sting, Berg received pressure from within his department to drop the investigation, one higher-up telling him all Hell would break loose if he went after DeLand, even putting his arm around Berg and saying, "You know, you don't have to go around prosecuting everyone."

But Berg refused to cave to pressure.

Berg was fired, the latest victim of a system set up to hide and protect malevolent homopredator clergy.

Tittabawassee Township Chief of Police Dennis Green also pressured Berg to drop the investigation without giving reasons why.

Church Militant contacted Green to ask him why Berg was fired and whether it was in retaliation for his investigation of DeLand. We received no response.

The sudden, unexplained termination stands in direct opposition to the very public comments made by Green that Berg would be next in line as police chief given Berg's long and illustrious track record.

Then there was the intimidation from Judge Michael Talbot, who'd served on the Michigan bench for 40 years.

He'd been appointed independent delegate by then-Bishop Joseph Cistone in the Saginaw criminal probe but appears to have been anything but independent.

In May 2018, Talbot went to prosecutors and essentially ordered them to shut down the ongoing Fr. DeLand investigation and to kick Berg off the case.

Assistant Prosecutor Mark Gaertner threw Talbot out of his office and eventually filed a grievance against him with the Michigan attorney general's office for his attempts at intimidation.

After Berg's sting operation ended with an arrest of Fr. DeLand in February 2018, locals rallied around the priest, painting him as the innocent victim while making Berg out to be the scoundrel.

Saginaw Bishop Joseph Cistone died suddenly on Oct. 16 2018 — found collapsed on his bathroom floor.

Although he had been the center of a criminal investigation into sex abuse cover-up, the local coroner rushed his body to the funeral home without performing an autopsy, leaving many still wondering why.

The day after his death, Detective Berg was called into the police chief's office and fired.

We've seen Berg's case before.

Recall Boston in 2002, where the courts and police worked with Church leaders to protect predator priests, an important point highlighted in the Oscar-winning film Spotlight.

The character who plays attorney Mitchell Garabedian delivers the memorable line: "If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one."

Then there's Pennsylvania, where law enforcement at multiple levels colluded with Church leaders in various dioceses to cover up decades of priest abuse, as revealed in the bombshell Pennsylvania grand jury report last year.

'If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.'

And then there's Buffalo, New York, where retired policemen admitted they were given marching orders not to arrest Catholic priests accused of sexual misconduct, but instead told to hand them over to the diocese to be handled out of sight of the public.

The normal course was to send the priests to a useless rehab and then be assigned to another parish where the predatory behavior simply repeated.

And the case that made international headlines last year and sent the Vatican into massive damage control, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whose sexual deviancy had been known for decades by multiple bishops and cardinals.

Saginaw is no different. Diocesan officials had known about DeLand's homosexual affairs for decades. The diocese knew about the parties DeLand threw for young people in his rectory, with parishioners often seeing young men spending the night there. But the diocese did nothing.

DeLand was allowed to roam free, preying on numerous victims, destroying faith, mind, bodies and souls.

Investigators believe DeLand's predatory behavior is to blame for upwards of five suicides.

Yet, in the face of all this, too many in Saginaw, and not just the Church, were willing to look the other way.

DeLand is no longer roaming the streets and schools of the community thanks one man's hard work.

Instead of praise and a promotion, Berg was fired, the latest victim of a system set up to hide and protect malevolent homopredator clergy — the very system Pope Francis breathed new life into two weeks ago by pronouncing that the bishops would investigate themselves.

Watch Part II of our exclusive interview with Detective Berg here.

Watch our Special Report: Inside the Mind of a Homopredator Priest.

Learn more about Detective Berg's organization

Help Church Militant hire detectives like Brian Berg. Take action.

 

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