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Turning Back the Clock

A former Ann Arbor priest's sexual abuse case is dismissed.

by Michael Betzold

From the November, 2019 issue

October was a bad month for Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel's campaign against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Washtenaw County District Court judge Joseph Burke dismissed her case against former priest Tim Crowley, who was arrested in Arizona in May on charges of abusing an altar boy in the 1980s in Jackson and Hillsdale, and at St. Timothy in Ann Arbor.

The defense didn't deny the assaults but argued that Nessel's prosecution was barred by the statute of limitations, which at the time was six years (it's now fifteen years or more, depending on the victim's age). Judge Burke agreed.

Assistant attorney general Danielle Hagaman-Clarke contended Crowley had established a pattern of force and coercion starting when the boy was a minor, and that his transfer out of state in 1995 had stopped the clock on the statute of limitations.

Spokesman Dan Olsen says the AG will appeal and adds that the ruling won't stop other prosecutions, most of which also are based on Nessel's new interpretation that leaving the state effectively extends the statute of limitations. Olsen couldn't say when the appeal would be filed.

Later last month, in the first case to come to trial under Nessel's campaign, Patrick Casey, a priest charged in Wayne County with a third-degree sexual conduct felony pled guilty to a reduced charge of a misdemeanor assault after a jury spent one afternoon and failed to reach a verdict on the felony case. The plea bargain got the AG a conviction--but the penalty is limited to one year in jail, while the original charge specified up to fifteen.     (end of article)

[Originally published in November, 2019.]

 



 
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