How Can You Tell When it’s a ‘Sexually-Motivated’ Crime?

A close up of plastic cling film, which the priest is said to have used to restrain the boy.
The priest is said to have wrapped the boy in saran wrap, covered his eyes and mouth, and left him in a dark closet for hours. But was it ‘sexually motivated’?

A strange case made headlines last month when a Catholic priest in Coloma, Michigan wrapped a teen boy in Saran wrap and imprisoned him in a janitor’s closet. Specifically, he wrapped the boy tightly so he couldn’t move his arms legs or head, covered his eyes and mouth with tape, and then shut him up in a dark closet where he stayed for over an hour. This took place in the fall of 2013. So why is it back in the headlines, and what makes it a sexually motivated crime?

According to the priest – Father Brian Stanley – the Saran-wrap-and-closet routine was part of a punishment that his parents had agreed to. The boy apparently had poor grades and had been caught smoking marijuana. His parents were concerned and talked to Father Stanley about what he recommended as a consequence of the teen’s actions. Apparently the priest suggested being bound and isolated, and the family agreed to it. End of story. Except it wasn’t…

The Attorney General’ Office has been addressing sex crimes in the Church

Dana Nessel, the current Attorney General, has created a task force whose sole purpose is to investigate abuse crimes (primarily sexual) within the church. “This is about taking on large-scale institutions that turn a blind eye to victims. and making certain we hold them accountable.” Nessel explained. “That includes unapologetically pursuing any and all individuals who abuse their power to victimize our residents.”

Among the millions of documents that the task force received from the seven different dioceses in Michigan, was the paperwork documenting Father Stanley’s treatment of that particular boy. Charges were filed, and Stanley was arrested for what the Michigan A.G.’s office says are sexual abuse crimes. But what exactly makes this a sexual crime? There’s no record that boy was molested or inappropriately touched in any way. And while the saran wrap and isolation punishment is certainly extreme (and NOT recommended!), it isn’t necessarily sexual.

So how can they claim it’s a sexually motivated crime? 

In order to prove that a crime was sexually motivated, the prosecutor has to prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) that the defendant either committed the crime for the purpose of sexual gratification or intended to commit a sexual crime. In other words, they did something illegal because it was sexually stimulating for them (in this case, wrapping a teen in plastic and leaving him isolated in a closet). Or that the crime that was committed was leading up to something sexual ( like preparation for a sex crime that hadn’t happened yet.)

There doesn’t appear to be any record that what Father Stanley did had any kind of sexual element, or was part of a plan to sexually assault the boy. So how can a prosecutor claim it was sexually motivated? The truth is, they do it often. To shock the jury and elicit an emotional response, they make unsupported claims about a defendant’s mindset or intentions, hoping it’ll get them the reaction they need to convict. And that’s why you need a highly-skilled sex crime defense attorney on your side! Defending against sex crime allegations is a highly specialized skill requiring decades of criminal defense experience. 

Being accused of sexually motivated crimes is devastating!

Few things are more devastating for your reputation than being accused of a sex crime, which includes any crimes that are percieved as being sexually motivated. Which is why it matters which defense attorney you get to help you manage the fallout from those allegations, and to defend your rights and your future against criminal charges. So, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 (866 7NoJail) today and make sure you have excellent representation through every part of this painful process. We’re here to help you fight because it’s what we do best! We fight sex crime charges all over the lower peninsula of Michigan.