With next week’s scheduled start of former Catholic priest Robert DeLand’s trial on sexual abuse charges, the leader of the 11 county Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, the Most Reverend Walter Hurley, says church leaders will continue to assist all victims. Since 2002, over 12,000 people at all levels of the local church have been given training to spot sexual abuse and the proper steps to take in reporting the abuse.

Bishop Hurley said the diocese will continue to cooperate with state and local law enforcement agencies investigating these incidents. The bishop is encouraging any victim of sexual abuse to report it to the Michigan Attorney General’s hot line number, 1-844-324-3374. A separate hot line, 1-855-VOICES4 (855-864-2374), is available to victims of sexual abuse.

The bishop also assures donors to Catholic Services Appeals and local parishes the money is not being used to pay legal fees associated with the sexual abuse cases.

In a video released by the diocese, Bishop Hurley said God is walking with us on this journey and he appreciates the prayers and support during these troubled times.

DeLand’s trial is scheduled to begin this week in Saginaw County Circuit Court. His attorney has filed a motion requesting a change of venue, based on intense local media coverage.