Criminal Charges Dismissed against Ex-ann Arbor Priest Accused of Molesting Altar Boy
By Nathan Clark
October 2, 2019
|Courtesy Maricopa County, Arizona Jail|
Sexual assault charges filed against a former Ann Arbor and Jackson area priest accused of regularly molesting an altar boy nearly 30 years ago were dismissed Tuesday.
Citing the dates of the alleged criminal acts, District Court Judge Joseph Burke found that the charges against Timothy Crowley failed to abide by the crime’s then six-year statute of limitations, forcing the court to dismiss all criminal charges at Crowley’s Oct. 1 preliminary examination.
“We all agree on the facts in the case. They’re awful, horrible and abominable, but the law is the law,” Burke said.
Crowley, 70, was charged with four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for 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.
“The judge did the right thing in following the law,” Crowley’s attorney Joe Simon said. “Throughout this case, I was given no discovery that supported the criminal complaint against Mr. Crowley.”
Disagreeing with the decision, Michigan Attorney General’s Office Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark argued the sexual acts committed against the victim, now in his 40s, were allowable beyond the old six-year statute of limitations as Crowley established a method of force and coercion to abuse the victim over the span of several years.
Simon drew issue with the way the case was filed with the court, arguing state prosecutors had reason to know the statute of limitations had expired, yet went forward with charges anyway.
“The lead investigator testified he had no information of a criminal act after (the victim) achieved the age of 16 following his May interview with him, hence invoking the protection of the statute of limitations, but yet they still charged and arrested Crowley misrepresenting when he achieved the age of 16,” Simon argued, “I don’t know how the state can, in such a public way, can go on the news and drag him back here, beat their chests and plead that through 1990 there were forceful acts happening at age 16 when (the victim) turned 16 in 1988. It was false.”
Crowley’s arrest was announced in May, along with that of four other priests amid a large-scale investigation by the Michigan Attorney General’s office into sex abuses in Catholic dioceses. His name is on a recently released list of 17 priests the Catholic Diocese of Lansing says have been “credibly accused of abusing a minor" since the diocese was founded in 1937.
Crowley’s 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.
It is the policy of MLive to not name or identify victims of sexual assault.
While spending time with Crowley, he 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 said.
“I thought that’s what priests did to bond with people,” the victim said. “I thought it was normal and priests were to be respected and obeyed.”
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.
He recalled several instances where the two would sit in the church’s rectory and watch homosexual pornography on VHS tapes.
“(Crowley) would change into short-shorts with no underwear on when the video played and would touch (his own genitals),” the victim said.
Crowley performed multiple sexual acts on the victim throughout the years until the victim was in high school and admitted he was suicidal and confided in a family friend, he said.
The victim and the family friend and met with the rest of the victim’s family to talk about what was going on and the victim’s father “lost it,” he said.
“Dad blew up and said he was going to end (Crowley’s) life,” the victim said.
The family got in contact with 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.