Michigan priest accused of tying up teenage boy, taping mouth and eyes

By Ryan Boldrey
Flint Journal
August 22, 2019

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Thursday, March 14, 2019.

The ongoing investigation into sex-abuse claims involving Michigan’s seven Catholic dioceses has resulted in more charges by the state attorney general’s office, this time against a former Otsego priest.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today that Father Brian Stanley, of Coloma, is being charged with one felony count of false imprisonment. If convicted, Stanley would face up to 15 years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender, according to state law.

“Stanley is accused of secreting away a teenage boy and holding him against his will in the janitor’s room of St. Margaret’s Church in 2013,” states a news release issued by Nessel’s office.

The priest reportedly immobilized the young man by wrapping him tightly in plastic wrap. He then used masking tape as additional binding to cover his eyes and mouth, according to the attorney general’s office.

The incident was first reported to the Diocese of Kalamazoo in 2013, prompting Stanley to be placed on administrative leave immediately, according to a statement from the diocese. The diocese states that it reported the allegation to Child Protective Services, who in turn referred the matter to the Otsego Police Department.

“We promptly placed Father Brian Stanley on administrative leave pending the outcome of the police investigation. According to the Otsego Police Department, ‘the complaint was not criminal and there would be no charges,’” reads a statement from the diocese.

Stanley was then reinstated, but four years later the diocese learned of additional allegations involving Stanley and reported those incidents to the Coldwater Police Department; however, no charges were filed by law enforcement, the diocese says. This time he was not reinstated, according to the diocese.

“We placed Father Stanley on administrative leave from active ministry in January 2017. He remains on administrative leave and is prohibited from public ministry,” the diocese states.

Stanley, according to the attorney general’s office, left the alleged victim in the 2013 incident, bound and alone, in the janitor’s room for more than an hour before returning and eventually letting him go.

According to Nessel’s office, “this type of conduct is a sexually motivated crime.”

“As our team continues to pore over what we previously thought was hundreds of thousands of pages of documents — but is now known to be millions of pages — seized from all seven Michigan dioceses last year, we know this is still only the beginning,” Nessel stated in the release.

“This is about taking on large-scale institutions that turn a blind eye to victims and making certain we hold them accountable. That includes unapologetically pursuing any and all individuals who abuse their power to victimize our residents," she said.

Stanley was arrested by special agents from the attorney general’s office and had his bond set at $100,000 while he awaited arraignment in the 57th District Court on Aug. 22, according to the release.

His bond was reset to $5,000 during his arraignment, according to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office. Stanley has been ordered to have no contact with minors as a condition of his bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 29 in Allegan County.

According to Nessel’s office, the charge against Stanley resulted from information from the files seized from the diocese in October 2018.

The alleged crime is said to have occurred in the fall of 2013 when Stanley was asked by the victim’s family to help counsel their son, according to investigators. It is apparent from Kalamazoo Diocesan records that Stanley had been engaging in this type of conduct with the binding materials for decades, according to the release.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to promote greater protection and safeguards of all people, particularly for children and vulnerable adults," the diocese says. "We continue to cooperate with the Office of the Michigan Attorney General in its ongoing investigation.”

An investigation into alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priests dating back to 1950 in Michigan’s Catholic dioceses was opened in August 2018.

Members of the attorney general’s clergy abuse investigative team have been working to review hundreds of tips and hundreds of thousands of pages of documents seized in simultaneous raids on Michigan’s seven Catholic dioceses in 2018.


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