A former Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy was arrested Monday, accused of shoving and slamming into a door a child who was in his care.
Timothy Crane, 32, faces a charge of felony child abuse. He was a school resource officer at Palm Harbor Middle School from October 2019 to this spring, according to the Sheriff’s Office, when schools shut down because of the pandemic.
He is accused of abusing a child in two instances that took place in Tampa on April 25. Those allegations were reported in July, according to the arrest report. That same month, Crane’s wife and ex-wife both asked a court to grant domestic violence injunctions against him.
When the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office learned of the investigation, the agency said it “immediately initiated an internal review and Crane was placed on an administrative suspension."
Crane was removed from duty and his gun and badge were taken from him, the Sheriff’s Office said, as it awaited the results of the criminal investigation and the injunction hearings. He resigned as a deputy on Sept. 21, court records show. Once he did so, the Sheriff’s Office said it ended its internal investigation.
The criminal case was investigated by the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office filed the charge on Oct. 9. The name and age of the child were redacted from court records.
Witnesses told police that Crane got upset when the boy would not clean up after himself. Crane started spanking the child, witnesses said, and then Crane spanked him harder and “started screaming in the victim’s ear as loud as ... he would a suspect,” according to the arrest report.
Crane started throwing the boy into the air, the report said, and repeatedly called him “stupid." He took the child into a bedroom and punched the door next to his head, witnesses said. Then, when the boy was lying on the ground crying, Crane “told him that he would take a baseball bat and hit him in the back of the head, so that he didn’t have to hear him cry anymore,” according to the arrest report.
Later, the arresting officer wrote, Crane again became upset when the boy would not say goodnight to someone else in the house. The child was apparently asleep when Crane went into his bedroom, a witness told police, then started spanking and screaming at the child. Then Crane took the child into a bathroom, beat on the counter and cabinets and continued screaming at him, the report said.
Eventually, police said, Crane slammed the boy into the door, then spanked him with one hand while holding him aloft with the other. A witness told police that Crane used full force, like he was “hitting an adult.”
Someone reported the alleged abuse to police in July, according to the report. That same month, Crane’s wife and ex-wife both filed to obtain injunctions against him, which detailed further accusations. They said Crane had injured the child on numerous occasions, and that he threatened to throw him through walls and drown him in a lake; abused drugs and alcohol; that he was verbally and physically aggressive toward both women and other family members; and that he threatened to shoot or drown family pets.
Judges in both cases granted temporary injunctions, prohibiting Crane from contacting the women or child.
Crane told officers he occasionally spanked the child but denied abusing or threatening him, and said that “he has never used ‘police tactics’ on him,” according to the arrest report.
He was booked into the Hillsborough County jail on Monday, then freed later that day after posting $2,000 bail. He is being represented by attorney Ben Stechschutle, but his law office said he was not available to comment Wednesday. Crane could not be reached for comment.
He began working for the Sheriff’s Office in 2014, according to personnel records. School resource officer was his most recent assignment, though the agency could not say what his duties were since schools shut down in the spring.
In a letter of resignation, he cited his legal troubles as the reason why he was leaving and said he was going to work as an insurance adjuster.
“I do not know if I will remain in my new role for the rest of my life,” he wrote. “Law enforcement is what I love doing most, and I cannot say that I will be out of it forever.”