Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Church volunteer faces sex charge

A volunteer youth worker at a Clearwater church was arrested Tuesday, accused of improper sexual conduct with a boy at the church.

Michael David Sullivan, 32, of 324 Main St., Safety Harbor, was arrested at home after an investigation by Clearwater police Detective Michael Murphy. He was charged with committing a lewd and lascivious act on a child younger than 16.

The investigation began after Murphy received a complaint from the mother of a 12-year-old boy. Arrest records said that Sullivan was a volunteer youth worker for middle school pupils at Northwood Presbyterian Church on State Road 580. No one from the church was available for comment Tuesday.

The boy gave detectives this account: He was at handbell practice the week of July 25 when he went into a restroom. Sullivan followed him, stood at a urinal and masturbated in front of him.

Sullivan is only now being arrested because the boy recently told his mother , Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor said.

Sullivan has been accused of similar behavior in the past. In 1988, he was charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious behavior in the presence of children younger than 16. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to nine months of probation.

Sullivan was being held at the Pinellas County Jail on Tuesday in lieu of $25,000 bail.