Ex-Ann Arbor priest accused of molesting altar boy sent to trial

MLive [Walker MI]

March 3, 2023

By Mitchell Kukulka

A former Ann Arbor and Jackson-area priest facing multiple sexual assault charges is one step closer to standing before a jury.

The sexual abuse case against defrocked Catholic Priest Timothy Crowley has been bound over to circuit court following a preliminary examination Thursday, according to court records.

Crowley, 73, faces two counts each of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and second-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from incidents alleged to have taken place between 1986 and 1990 at Jackson’s St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Hillsdale’s St. Anthony Catholic Church and Ann Arbor’s St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church.

Related: Criminal charges reinstated against ex-Ann Arbor priest accused of molesting altar boy

A pretrial hearing in the case has been scheduled for March 29, officials from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office stated in a news release.

“It is thanks to the victim-centered, trauma-informed investigation by the Michigan State Police and the staff in the Department of Attorney General that this predator was tracked down and brought back to Michigan to face his crimes,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “I also want to thank the survivors who have come forward to share their stories and bring attention to the abuse that has been endured by too many children for too long.”

Charges against Crowley were originally dismissed in October 2019 after a judge found the charges failed to abide by the alleged crime’s then six-year statute of limitations.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office — which was prosecuting the case as part of a large-scale investigation into sex abuses in Catholic dioceses — argued on appeal that the district court abused its discretion when it dismissed the charges because it presented sufficient evidence that Crowley coerced the alleged victim into sexual acts and that the victim suffered personal injury well within the statute of limitations.

Charges were reinstated in 2022 after a review for the appeal court agreed with this assessment and issued an order to the Washtenaw County Trial Court to reinstate four of the eight original sexual misconduct charges against Crowley.

Crowley’s alleged victim testified he was a 10-year-old altar boy for Crowley in 1982 at St. Mary’s in Jackson when his family encouraged him to spend time with Crowley as they believed he was a good role model. The Jackson Citizen Patriot/MLive does not generally name victims of sexual assault.

While spending time with Crowley, the priest told him he was “a good boy” and would touch him slightly while encouraging him to sleep in bed together, adding “it was normal and natural,” the victim previously testified.

The encounters continued regularly in Jackson and continued when Crowley was appointed to St. Anthony’s in Hillsdale, where the victim stated Crowley began giving him alcohol and cigarettes, the victim said.

The victim’s family contacted an attorney in 1993 and a deal was struck with the Catholic Diocese where it paid the victim $200,000 to sign a non-disclosure agreement and the dioceses would “take appropriate action against Crowley,” the victim said.

Crowley underwent a two-year rehabilitation program and then served the Catholic Archdiocese of Anchorage in Alaska, according to news reports from the early 2000s, when the allegations came under public scrutiny.

Crowley was removed from ministry in Anchorage after U.S. dioceses adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults in 2002, according to the Lansing Diocese. He was defrocked in 2015.