Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 13, 2014

Residents show support for priest


Effingham Daily News

SIGEL — A number of area residents are showing support for a priest accused of committing "clerical sexual misconduct" with a minor more than 30 years ago.

It's hard to drive down a road in Sigel and not see at least one yellow ribbon on a light pole or tree.

Valerie Probst, a member of St. Michael's parish in Sigel, said she thinks about the Rev. Robert DeGrand often, particularly on Sundays.

"I sing the 10 a.m. Mass every week and I miss him coming up and speaking with us," Mrs. Probst said. "It's a vacant spot that shouldn't be there."

Valerie Probst's husband, Jim, said DeGrand is well-known for his work throughout the community, particularly with youth.

"He has a deep respect for the youth in our parish," Jim Probst said. "They like him a lot.

"A lot of parents attribute his influence with keeping their kids in the church as adults."

Probst said nobody in the parish has ever accused DeGrand of wrongdoing.

The alleged abuse is said to have occurred in Morgan County.

For more on the story, see Tuesday's print edition.