Gallery: Police raid Saginaw diocese properties, Bishop's home
By Michael Kransz
SAGINAW COUNTY, MI -- Police are raiding two Catholic Diocese of Saginaw properties and the home of Bishop Joseph Cistone as part of an ongoing investigation into sexual abuse in the church.
Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Gaertner said he can't say what officers are searching for and taking from the properties, but confirmed the search warrants executed Thursday, March 22, are related to the diocese's lack of cooperation.
"Contrary to the statements of the diocese and the bishop that they would fully cooperate with law enforcement, they did not," Gaertner said. "Therefore it was necessary for law enforcement to use other investigative tools, including search warrants."
Gaertner said search warrants were executed at the bishop's home on Corral Drive in Saginaw Township, the rectory at Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption, 615 Hoyt in Saginaw, and the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw offices in Saginaw Township.
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Prosecutors call it a "work in progress."
To date, only one diocese priest, Rev. Robert DeLand, has been criminally charged. He was accused of sexually assaulting two males -- a 21-year-old and a 17-year-old -- in his Saginaw Township condominium.
Since DeLand's Feb. 26 arrest, numerous tips and allegations about further sexual abuse dating back as far as three decades have flooded area police departments, investigators previously said. Among the tips were allegations against other clergymen.
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"I would imagine when we verify some of the information we're getting that other priests will be under investigation," a detective said.
Another diocese priest, Rev. Ronald J. Dombrowski, was recently suspended by the diocese after they received a report he allegedly sexually assaulted a person when they were a minor. He has not been criminally charged.
Second Saginaw Diocese priest suspended amid sexual abuse probe
The diocese said the 72-year-old's suspension was a "precautionary measure."
Earlier this month, the Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor's Office formed a special investigative team to coordinate and investigate allegations of abuse involving "officials" within the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw.
Messages were left with the diocese seeking comment. Doors to the diocese office in Saginaw Township were closed. Saginaw Township police officers were barring anyone from entering the building at 5800 Weiss St.
An MLive reporter went to the home of Cistone, knocked on the door and rang the doorbell, but no one answered. A window in the door was broken out and glass was on the floor.
As of 1:30 p.m. Thursday, police remained at the diocese's Saginaw Township office.
The diocese includes the counties of Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, Isabella, Midland, Gratiot, Tuscola, Huron and Sanilac.
Six years ago, a lawyer accused Cistone of misleading a grand jury by not acknowledging that he witnessed the shredding of documents that contained the names of priests suspected of child molestation in 1994 while he was serving as a church official in the Philadelphia area. He never faced any criminal charges in that case.