Recently resigned School Resource Officer in Pinellas County arrested in Hillsborough County for child abuse

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Timothy Crane, the former Pinellas County Office School Resource Office (SRO) at Palm Harbor Middle school, was arrested on Monday, October 19, 2020. The arrest was conducted as part of an executed warrant. Crane is facing charges of felony child abuse and was released from the Hillsborough County Jail after posting $2,000 bond.

The investigation began with an initial call was received by the Clearwater Police Department in the evening of July 12, 2020. Information conveyed was that the child was abused on April 25, 2020 and December 12, 2019.

Detectives were provided photographs of the victim with redness and a cluster of bumps on his right butt cheek. On the photo from April 27, 2020, detectives observed bruising on both of the victim’s butt cheeks.

Crane’s ex-wife advised that in December 2019, her 3 year-old child returned home from a weekend visit with Crane. Crane reported that he was holding the child and the child fell out of his arms as he slipped and fell leaving a Walmart store. In text messages, he admitted to spanking the child for disciplinary reasons. His ex-wife was not aware of what happened until July of 2020 when notified by his current wife.

After the April 27, 2020 visit, Crane advised that the victim had tripped while walking down the steps, landing on his butt. She advised that she never thought that Crane would abuse their child.

Crane’s current wife was interviewed by detectives. She stated that on April 25, 2020, she observed Crane spank the victim with his hand(s) on two occasions that evening. She stated he was spanked after not helping others clean up. After not listening with her and to Crane, he hit the victim on the butt with an open hand. According to his wife, the child continued to ignore Crane. The child was hit harder and Crane began to scream into the victim’s ear as loud as “he was a suspect.” She stated that Crane then kicked a toy, hitting the victim. When the child continued to cry, Crane kept yelling and shoved him to the floor aggressively.

She stated that he took the victim and started throwing him into the air but catching him as he continued to scream and cry. Crane reportedly kept asking, “Are you stupid?”

Crane reportedly then took the victim to the bedroom and punched the door next to the victim’s head. The victim was laying down crying and screaming. His wife advised that Crane told the victim that he would take a baseball bat and hit him in back of the head so he would not have to hear him cry anymore.

Later the same night, Crane became upset when the victim would not tell family members goodnight. The victim was sleeping with his eyes still closed when the request was made. Crane reportedly began the beat on the counter and slam cabinet doors to get the victim’s attention. Crane reportedly hit the victim on the butt at least 20 times that evening. His wife stated that the victim was struck with full force and that it was like “hitting an adult.”

Crane reported panicked when he saw the bruises on the victim and asked his wife what he should say to his ex-wife.

Multiple other children in the home that night provided information that the victim was spanked multiple times.

Crane denied threatening the child in any way. He told investigators that he never told anyone that he would hit the victim with a baseball bat, throw him against the wall, or in a lake. He denied using “police tactics” on the victim or deliberately trying to hurt the victim. Crane admitted that the child has become more defiant but has not abused him to make him behave. He admitted to spanking the victim on the butt usually only twice and the bruising must have been from the fall at Walmart.

The victim disclosed to investigators that he was spanked via a demonstration of hitting himself on the buttocks multiple times.

Both Crane’s wife and ex-wife obtained domestic violence injunctions against Crane.  His current wife reported needing to seek safety in a domestic violence shelter and even necessitated leaving the state due to fear for herself and child. 

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office reassigned Crane from his position as a SRO at Palm Harbor Middle School toward the start of the current school year.  It is undetermined what actions, if any, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office took after his wife contacted them to discuss his actions approximately 3 months ago.

Crane resigned from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office ending any internal investigation.

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