Priest from Novi Who Molested Gets Nearly 16 Years in Child Porn Case
Observer & Eccentric
January 23, 2014
|Nonpracticing Catholic priest Timothy Murray, 63, of Novi was sentenced Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, to 15 years and 8 months in federal prison for possessing and distributing child pornography. / Archdiocese of Detroit|
Catholic priest Timothy Murray was never prosecuted for sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy in the mid-1980s. But as the onetime Catholic parish pastor awaited sentencing today on child pornography charges, a federal prosecutor argued that it was finally time for Murray to pay for his assault on childhood innocence.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Kevin Mulcahy described Murray’s assault on the teenager and gestured toward a grown man in the courtroom, whom Mulcahy acknowledged was Murray’s long-ago victim. The man, who was not identified, had also written to U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts about the assault, which Murray has admitted. Mulcahy asked the judge to consider that when sentencing Murray for possessing and sharing nearly 700 child porn videos on his home computers.
“The character of a man who could sit and watch children suffer” in child pornography, said Mulcahy, “is disgusting.”
The priest went “largely unscathed” from his behavior, said Mulcahy, “and deserves no further break.”
U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts sentenced Murray, 63, of Novi to 15 years and 8 months in federal prison for possessing and distributing child pornography.
“You should not be in contact with minors. The sentence that this court will impose will make sure that doesn’t happen,” Roberts said. She noted that Murray had never been charged with the assault on a minor but cited other factors for the length of the sentence. Mulcahy had argued for 22 years, while Murray’s defense attorney asked for five years.
Beforehand, the disgraced priest addressed Roberts and apologized.
“I did download” child pornography, Murray said. Of the children victimized, Murray said, “I’m sorry for them, feel bad about that, and I will never do it again.”
A federal investigation in 2012 found Murray had a large volume of child pornographic images on his home computers and nearly 700 videos of child pornography. Murray pleaded guilty in July to one count each of possession and distribution of child pornography.
Murray’s case reveals the changing views and practices on handling child sexual assault. When Murray molested a 13-year-old in the mid-1980s, by touching his genitalia, the victim’s family confronted the priest but didn’t contact any other authorities. Murray admitted molesting the teenager, Mulcahy told the court today.
It wasn’t until 2004, after massive publicity surfaced regarding the Catholic Church’s scandal of handling child sex abuse complaints, that the victim came forward and the Archdiocese of Detroit removed Murray as the pastor of St. Edith in Livonia. The archdiocese forbade Murray from working as, dressing like or identifying himself as a priest. The statute of limitations prevented Murray from being criminally prosecuted.
The archdiocese also required Murray to report to a monitor about any activities that could put him in contact with minors. But Murray did not tell archdiocese officials that he participated at Hope Lutheran Church in Farmington Hills as a co-director of church plays and as an occasional “worship leader,” as revealed in federal court documents.
Roberts told Murray that she found it hard to believe Murray’s comments to court investigators and sentencing experts, in which he blamed the priestly celibacy requirement of the Catholic Church for contributing to his attraction to child porn and his past behavior — or that he didn’t know viewing child porn in his home was illegal.
“This court is very hard-pressed to believe you when you say you didn’t know it was a felony,” said Roberts.
Roberts said psychological evaluations of Murray show he has pedophiliac tendencies.
“You have them and you have demonstrated them, so the public has to be protected from you,” said Roberts.
Murray remains on bond and home confinement while awaiting a date to report for imprisonment.