|Franciscan Friar Arrested in Child Abuse Case
By Nick Madigan
July 14, 2011
A 41-year-old friar and former teacher at Baltimore's Archbishop Curley High School was arrested this week in Connecticut and charged with inappropriate conduct with a child, according to police.
Michael Miller, a member of the Conventual Franciscan Friars, was charged Tuesday with risking injury, impairing the morals of a minor and attempted acts of obscenity, according to the Berlin, Conn., Police Department. He was freed in lieu of $150,000 bail and was ordered to appear in court in Berlin on July 26.
Officials at Archbishop Curley High School confirmed Thursday that Miller taught religion there in the mid-1990s and again between 2003 and 2006. From 2006 until shortly before his arrest, he was the parochial vicar at St. Paul Church in Kensington, part of the town of Berlin, but was suspended "from all public ministry" on July 4, after the Archdiocese of Hartford learned of the allegations against him, according to a statement from officials of the Franciscan order.
"He can never be returned to ministry if these criminal charges are deemed credible," the archdiocese's statement said, referring to allegations of "inappropriate contact with a minor by Father Michael."
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Sean Caine, said there were no allegations of impropriety by Miller during his years in Maryland.
In its statement about the case, released on Wednesday, the Franciscan order said: "We abhor and lament any actions that would hinder or hurt God's children. We grieve over the mortal sin of sexual abuse in the Church and in society at large. We denounce all inappropriate contact with minors."
The statement said the Franciscans "are cooperating with the police in their continuing investigation of these charges," and that they were especially concerned about "any victim of Fr. Michael's alleged impropriety." At the same time, the order said it was "concerned for the well-being of our brother Michael," and that, "while we strongly condemn any inappropriate actions that he may have done, we shall pray and care for him."
Local news reports in Connecticut said that more than 100 parishioners attended a prayer service for Miller on Tuesday evening at the church over which he had presided.
Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus contributed to this article.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Miller was charged in connection with the sexual abuse of a child. None of the charges against Miller accuse him of having physical contact with a child.
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