“Amid a sex abuse probe, the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw has released the names of five former priest they claim were removed from ministry because of credible claims of alleged sex abuse of minors.
On Friday, April 13, The Most Rev. Bishop Joseph R. Cistone announced that Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Michael J. Talbot will serve as the diocese’s independent delegate to review sexual misconduct.
The announcement of Talbot as an independent delegate comes nearly a month after Cistone’s home, along with two diocese properties, were raided by police.
Cistone also announced that along with two priests who are currently on administrative leave and under investigation, five more former priest names would be released.
According to the diocese, since the the adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and Essential Norms by the Bishops of the United States in 2002, the following clerics were permanently removed from ministry due to credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors:
- Stanislaus A. Bur (former priest – deceased)
- John E. Hammer (former priest)
- Richard L Howard (former deacon)
- Jack E. Leipert (former priest)
- Leonard F. Wilkuski (former priest)
Each priest mentioned has been defrocked.
The church did not release additional information on the former religious leaders.
Talbot, the Diocese’s independent delegate, is a Catholic who wrote the first Victim’s Rights Law for the State of Michigan and was responsible for implementing the law in courts and law enforcement agencies in Wayne County, according to biographical information on the Archdiocese of Detroit’s webpage.
He’s also a member of the Catholic Lawyers Society Board of Directors, former member of the board of Catholic Education for the Archdiocese of Detroit and former chairman of the Advisory Board of St. John’s Center for Family and Youth.
Currently, the Rev. Robert “Father Bob” DeLand, was suspended after he was arrested and charged Feb. 26 with three felonies on accusations he sexually assaulted a 21-year-old man and 17-year-old boy in his Saginaw Township condominium within the past year.
DeLand is charged with attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct, gross indecency between males and a single count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct causing injury.
DeLand most recently was assigned to St. Agnes Church in Freeland. He also has led Catholic churches and schools in Bay County.
DeLand was re-arrested on Thursday, April 5, and charged with multiple additional charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct causing personal injury, assault with intent to commit second-degree criminal sexual conduct, manufacturing or distributing an imitation controlled substance, and selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor.
In addition to DeLand’s suspension, in March the Rev. Ronald J. Dombrowski, 72, was suspended as a “precautionary measure” after a person told the diocese on March 15 that Dombrowski allegedly sexually abused them when they were a minor.
The diocese forwarded the complaint to law enforcement. Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Gaertner said that no charges have been filed against Dombrowski.
Cistone ordered Dombrowski not to wear his clerical attire, present himself as a priest in public or perform ministry while the allegation is investigated.
Cistone also said he cannot have contact with people under 21, barring him from going on school properties and participating in school and parish activities and functions.
Before his suspension, Dombrowski preached at Holy Family Parish in Saginaw. Since 1972, Dombrowski has held numerous positions and posts within the Diocese of Saginaw.
The diocese said in a statement that it places no deadlines or time limits on reporting the sexual abuse of minors by clergy. To bring forward a complaint and/or to speak to the victim assistance coordinator contact 989-797-6682 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier Friday, however, officals said victims of sexual abuse by priests should go to the police and not report it to the Diocese of Saginaw or its newly-named independent delegate.”