A Taylorville man made his first appearance in court today after charges were filed for grooming underage victims. Zachary Crowley, a youth minister, assistant football coach, and Athletic Director for Visionway Christian School appeared in court via remote along with his attorney on Monday morning.
Crowley currently faces two charges of unlawful grooming which is using a device to solicit, lure, or entice a minor to commit criminal sexual abuse, and sent instant messages of a graphic nature as well.
Christian County State’s Attorney Mike Havera says that Taylorville Police Officers received notifications from parents concerning messages that their child had received. According to Havera, after interviews were conducted, contacts were made through a cell phone traced back to Crowley including visual illustrations and text messages.
After Crowley was arrested, he waived his Miranda rights and was brought in for questioning. During that interview, Havera says, Crowley admitted to at least one of those cell phone numbers being his personal number, and text messages were sent by him. Since both counts were filed, more electronic devices have been taken in and will be investigated.
There will also be a separate charge for distribution of harmful material with another victim. Havera asked the court to recognize the many contacts that Crowley had including the youth football team, the fact that he was a youth minister, and the JFL football team.
The victim's ages range from 13-18 years old. Bond was set at $250,000 with 10% to apply. He is ordered not to have any contact with any of the listed victims, not have any entry to any of the Taylorville Schools or Visionway.
According to Crowley’s Attorney, Dan Fultz, the family was on the way to pay bond and he will reside with them.
Crowley faces 1-3 years in prison per charge followed by 1 year of mandatory supervised release (parole) and a fine of up to $25,000. His preliminary hearing is set for January 22nd at 10 AM.