One-Time Brighton Priest Arraigned On Sex Assault Charges

A one-time priest who began his career in Livingston County has been formally charged in the abuse of a former altar boy.

70-year-old Timothy Michael Crowley was arraigned June 29th in Washtenaw County on eight felony counts of criminal sexual conduct. A $5,000 bond was set and a probable cause conference scheduled for July 30th. Crowley, who was one of five current or former priests charged by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office in May, began his priesthood at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Brighton in 1979 as an assistant chaplain before he moved a year later to a Flint parish. In June 1982 he transferred to a parish in Jackson, where the abuse is alleged to have begun involving a 10-year-old altar boy and continued until he admitted his actions to church leaders in 1993.

After spending two years in a treatment program for priests, Crowley took a position with the diocese in Anchorage, Alaska. But he was removed from that position after his name was released in 2002 as part of a “zero-tolerance” policy adopted by American bishops. He was eventually defrocked in 2015.

While there is no evidence Crowley committed abuse while he worked in Brighton, St. Pat’s pastor, the Rev. Mathias Thelen, told WHMI that it was “disturbing” a perpetrator of such crimes was at the parish “no matter how long ago it happened” and was glad Crowley was being brought to justice.

Meanwhile, a sixth priest was arrested today as part of the state’s clerical abuse probe. Father Joseph Baker was charged with one count of 1st degree Criminal Sexual Conduct with a person under 13. Baker has been a pastor at St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford since 2008. The charge is the result of a tip from the Archdiocese of Detroit, which received the original report and immediately reported it to the lead prosecutor on the Michigan Attorney General’s clergy abuse team. (JK)

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