The Springfield Catholic Diocese is investigating clerical sexual misconduct that allegedly happened in Jacksonville more than 30 years ago.
According to a news release from the diocese, a priest has temporarily withdrawn from the ministry following a misconduct allegation with a minor said to have occurred more than 30 years ago.
Father Robert "Bud" DeGrand, pastor of parishes in Sigel, Neoga, Green Creek and Lillyville, is cooperating with the recommendation of the Diocesan Review Board that he temporarily withdraw from public ministry and from his ecclesiastical residence pending further investigation, according to the release.
Documents state that the alleged abuse was said to have happened in 1980 when Father DeGrand was assigned to Our Saviour Parish in Jacksonville, Illinois.
"The Springfield diocese takes such allegations very seriously," Bishop Thomas John Paprocki said in the release. "We have a strict policy on sexual abuse of minors by church personnel that reflects our desire to safeguard the welfare of minors in our parishes, institutions and programs. It also reflects our determination to deal properly and decisively with any allegations of sexual abuse of minors."
The allegation was received by the diocese's victim assistance coordinator on Sept. 9. On Sept. 13, the Diocesan Review Board found the allegation to have "a semblance of truth" and recommended that Bishop Paprocki begin a preliminary investigation, the news release said.
In the release, the diocese said it has notified the Morgan County States Attorney and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
The allegation was communicated to Father DeGrand Sept. 15 by Msgr. Carl Kemme, vicar general of the diocese, and Father David Hoefler, the local dean. On Sept. 18, Bishop Paprocki, Msgr. Kemme and Father Hoefler met with parishioners of the four parishes in a meeting held at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Sigel to inform them of the reason for Father DeGrand's temporary withdrawal from ministry, the news release said.
Bishop Paprocki said the purpose of temporary withdrawal is to provide quickly an opportunity to assess the risk to minors, the urgent needs of the church and the situation of the accused priest, according to the news release.
"It involves the cleric withdrawing himself at once from public ministry until a more definitive determination of the allegation can be made," he said in the release. "It is not a judgment of guilt, and it is not equivalent to a canonical suspension or any other penal sanction. It does not affect any ecclesiastical office that he holds; thus, he remains pastor until such time as a definitive determination can be made regarding the allegation."
David Clohessy, the director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), responded to the newest misconduct allegation blasting the Springfield bishop over "delay, secrecy & deception".
"We hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by DeGrand or cover ups by Paprocki will step forward, protect kids, call police, expose wrongdoers, deter wrongdoing and start healing," Clohessy wrote in his article. Click here to read the article.
Bishop Paprocki says that anyone with knowledge of even a single instance of sexual abuse of a minor should contact local law enforcement authorities or call the diocesan victim assistance coordinator, Patricia Kornfeld, at (217) 321-1155.