Former Michigan priest arrested for sexual assault of a child
June 6, 2019
Timothy M. Crowley, a former priest at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Ann Arbor, was arrested on May 23 in Tempe, AZ, according to Maricopa County jail records. The next day, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Crowley was one of five Michigan Catholic priests her office charged with criminal sexual misconduct.
Crowley, 69, was charged in Washtenaw County with four felony counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, with a maximum sentence of life in prison, and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. He is accused of assaulting a minor boy for about eight years while at St. Thomas from 1987 to 1990.
The charges come after months of investigation into sexual abuse by Michigan clergy inside the Catholic Church. The investigation was started in August 2018 by Nessel’s predecessor, former Attorney General Bill Schuette, following a report exposing widespread sexual abuse in the Pennsylvania Catholic Church.
All charges against Crowley fall within the statute of limitations because he has not been a Michigan resident since 1995. Prosecutors will move ahead with proceedings.
According to Nessel, all five cases began as tips from the Attorney General’s sexual abuse hotline, which she said has received more than 450 tips. The tips were then corroborated by interviews with victims and information found in the hundreds of thousands of documents seized from Michigan’s seven Catholic dioceses last October.
“Although we have charged these men with very serious crimes, I want to remind everyone that they are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law,” Nessel said in her announcement.
In a statement on the Attorney General Office’s website, Nessel emphasized the importance of holding large institutions accountable. Nessel was quoted in the statement saying she estimates her office has worked through only 5 to 10 percent of the documents, meaning the investigation could take more than two years to complete.
“This is about taking on large-scale institutions that turn a blind eye to victims and making certain we hold all of them accountable — that includes unapologetically pursuing any and all individuals who abuse their power by victimizing our residents,” the statement read.
The Attorney General’s Office asks anyone with information relevant to the clergy sexual abuse investigation to call the investigation hotline at 844-324-3374 or email [email protected]
In a statement released by the Diocese of Lansing following the Attorney General’s announcement, Lansing Bishop Earl Boyea expressed support for the charges and investigation.
“I welcome today’s action so that the truth can come out and justice may be served,” Boyea wrote. “Any priest who commits reprehensible acts against children does grave harm to victims. He betrays the priesthood and the entire Church. I pray that Christ brings healing to all involved.”
According to the affidavit filed in the Attorney General’s case against Crowley, the abuse began when the child was approximately 10 years old at St. Mary Parish in Jackson, where Crowley was a chaplain and the victim was an altar boy. From 1982 to 1990, as Crowley moved from St. Mary to St. Anthony in Hillsdale and then to St. Thomas in Ann Arbor, the boy attended these churches at the same time as well.
Crowley is accused of multiple illegal acts with a minor, including forcing oral sex and masturbation, watching pornography and providing alcohol or cigarettes. He allegedly threatened to kill the boy if he told the nun or his parents about the abuse.
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