Accused Priest Now off Church Roster
Diocese Says Rev. Michael J. Miller Was Sent to Treatment Facility after Arrest on Sex Charge
By Andrew Tilghman
Times Union (Albany, NY)
February 27, 2003
Albany — A longtime priest facing a felony charge for allegedly trying to pick up a 14-year-old boy for sex underwent residential treatment last year and has not returned to ministry in the Albany Diocese. The Rev. Michael J. Miller, 43, last assigned as a prison chaplain in Washington County, was arrested Aug. 21, 2001, in a downtown Troy parking lot after police said he approached the boy and pressured him to have sex, Troy police said. Miller is facing a charge of criminal solicitation, a felony. At the time of his arrest, police also charged Miller with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child.
Church officials did not respond to a series of written questions about Miller's status Wednesday. Church records show Miller was deleted last year from the roster of diocesan priests. He was not among the six priests Hubbard publicly removed from the active ministry in June who were known to have sexually abused at least one child. It is unclear whether Miller resigned or was removed by Bishop Howard Hubbard.
Miller's 18-month-old case has not been presented to a grand jury. Miller waived his right to a speedy trial and the case is still pending, said Rensselaer County Assistant District Attorney Joel Abelove. A hearing scheduled for Tuesday was postponed. Prosecutors usually have six months to seek an indictment, accept a plea or dismiss a case.
At the time of his arrest, church officials said Miller was placed on administrative leave and was awaiting admission to a treatment facility.
Last October, an attorney for the Albany Diocese, Michael Costello, submitted a letter to the Troy City Court that stated Miller "has been a resident of an out-of-state facility. In order to travel back for a (court) appearance, he must be accompanied by a facility representative." The letter did not specify the location or nature of the treatment facility. Miller left his post as a chaplain at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Washington County in September 2001, several months before church officials here and across the country began revealing the extent of sexual abuse among clergy.
At the time of his arrest, Miller told Troy police that he approached the boy for sex.
"I asked him if I could engage in oral sex with him because I am homosexual. I asked him his age. He told me 16. I then drove away," Miller said, according to a statement to police, court records show.
The boy told police a different version. The teenager said he was riding a bike when Miller drove up in a black SUV and "tried to convince me to get in the car, we could go to a quiet place."
"I told him I wasn't interested. He said how good a job he could do. I told him I'm not like that, I have a girlfriend," said the teen, who gave his address as a nearby motel, according to court papers.
Miller was ordained in 1987 and served in several Capital Region parishes until 1993, when he was assigned to St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, church records show. In 1999, he served as a chaplain at Great Meadow, a maximum-security prison, where he worked until shortly after his arrest, state officials said.
Criminal solicitation carries a maximum sentence of 1 to 4 years in state prison. Miller was released on $5,000 bail shortly after his arrest, court records show. Tim O'Brien contributed to this story.
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