Former Alaskan Chancellor Avoids Criminal Charges in Michigan

A formerly high-ranking Alaskan Catholic official – once accused of molesting and threatening to kill a ten year old – just dodged criminal charges. We call on every current and former Alaska church employee to take steps to help police and urge others who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by the cleric so he might be charged again, convicted and kept away from children and the vulnerable.

Last year, Fr. Timothy Crowley was arrested and charged with eight counts of child sexual abuse. Last month, however, citing the statute of limitations, a judge reluctantly said those charges had to be dropped.

Abusers commonly have more than one victim and we believe that there are likely others who were hurt by Fr. Crowley and could pursue new charges against him. Catholic church staff now have a moral duty to help find and support those other victims.

First, Juneau BishopAndrew Bellisario (Alaska’s highest ranking church official and the temporary head of the Anchorage archdiocese) should lead this effort and encourage his flock help. He can start by posting a list of credibly accused child molesting cleric on their diocesan website and including Fr. Crowley on that list. Many survivors suffer in silence but seeing the name of the person who abused them listed publicly as an abuser can encourage them to come forward, make a report, and seek help.

But other church workers can’t passively and irresponsibly sit back waiting – perhaps fruitlessly – for the church hierarchy to act responsibly. They must do all in their power to spread the word about the case against Fr. Crowley so that the full truth about his wrongdoing can be told. Action helps justice happen. Inaction helps predators escape justice.

Before becoming chancellor of the Anchorage archdiocese in the mid-1990s, Fr. Crowley was ousted from his Lansing parish after having allegedly abused a boy for years. Lansing diocesan officials paid the victim $200,000 but then, just two years later, sent the priest to Anchorage where he became the Anchorage chancellor, a top position. Thankfully, Fr. Crowley was ousted again in 2002.

Last year, Fr. Crowley was arrested in Tempe, Arizona. But because of Michigan’s archaic statute of limitations laws, Ann Arbor Judge Joseph Burke judge was forced to rule that the case against Fr. Crowley must be dropped. Fortunately, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is appealing that ruling.

We hope that this news encourages other victims to come forward, other catholics to do what they can to support them, and stakeholders in both states to take up reforms that keep abusers off the streets and create safer communities.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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