Michigan priest accused of wrapping boy in plastic, taping eyes, locking him up

Published: Aug. 22, 2019 at 12:01 PM EDT
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(8/22/2019) - A priest from West Michigan is accused of wrapping a boy in plastic and duct tape, covering his eyes and mouth and locking him in a church closet for at least an hour.

The Michigan Attorney General's Office filed a felony false imprisonment charge against 57-year-old Father Brian Stanley of Coloma. He could spend up to 15 years in prison and register as a sex offender if convicted.

The alleged incident took place at St. Margaret's Church in 2013. The Attorney General's Office learned of the allegations while reviewing files seized from the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo in October 2018.

The Attorney General's Office says the boy's family asked Stanley to help counsel him.

The priest allegedly wrapped the boy tightly with plastic film and added masking tape to immobilize him. Masking tape covered the boy's eyes and mouth before he was locked in a janitor's closet at St. Margaret's.

Stanley alleged left the boy immobilized, blindfolded and locked in the closet for more than an hour.

Additional records seized from the Diocese of Kalamazoo indicate Stanley has used a similar practice on children for decades, according to the Attorney General's Office.

Stanley was arraigned Thursday on one count of false imprisonment. Bond was set at $5,000 and the judge ordered Stanley to have no contact with minors.

The diocese released a statement saying officials reported the incident to Michigan Child Protective Services shortly after learning of the allegations in 2013. State officials referred the case to the Otsego Police Department.

However, police told the diocese that the allegations were not criminal, so no charges were filed.

The diocese received more complaints about Stanley in 2017, which church officials immediately forwarded to the Coldwater Police Department, according to the statement.

Stanley has remained on administrative leave since the 2017 allegations were filed. That means he hasn't been allowed to perform public ministry for more than two years.

The diocese says it is cooperating with the Attorney General's Office investigation.

Attorney General Dana Nessel said investigators are still reviewing millions of pages of documents taken from the seven Catholic dioceses in Michigan, but charges issued so far are "only the beginning."

“This is about taking on large-scale institutions that turn a blind eye to victims and making certain we hold them accountable," she said. "That includes unapologetically pursuing any and all individuals who abuse their power to victimize our residents.”