Former Pinellas school deputy arrested, charged with child abuse after being reported by ex-wife

8 On Your Side

Court documents show witnesses allege Timothy Crane hit three-year-old more than 20 times for "being rude."

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A former Palm Harbor school resource deputy has been charged with two counts of felony child abuse.

An arrest affidavit obtained by 8 On Your Side shows Timothy Crane is accused of physically and verbally attacking a 3-year-old boy. Crane’s ex-wife, Samantha Crane, confirms the victim is their son.

Crane turned himself in to Hillsborough authorities Monday. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office confirms he resigned from the agency on Sept. 21.

Crane was most recently the resource deputy at Palm Harbor Middle School. The agency says he had been reassigned to a non-law enforcement position prior to resigning.

The affidavit details two occasions in December 2019 and April 2020 where witnesses described to investigators spanking that got out of hand. One witness reported Crane spanking the child “26 times” because “he was being rude” and refused to clean up his mess.

Another witness claimed Crane slammed the boy into a door and threatened to “take a baseball bat and hit him in the back of the head so he didn’t have to hear him cry.”

When asked about the bruises, Samantha Crane says her ex-husband told her the boy fell out his arms. Another time, he said the boy fell down the stairs.

But Samantha Crane says Crane’s new wife, Michelle Fromme, eventually came to her with the real story in July. Samantha Crane then reported it to her ex-husband’s then-agency.

“Finally. Finally, someone is listening to me,” Samantha Crane claimed gratefully over Zoom, praising the Tampa Police Department’s investigation.

These are not the only violent accusations against Crane. Both Samantha Crane and Fromme have filed for protective orders.

8 On Your Side even obtained the emergency call from an incident where Fromme said she was forced to call 911, claiming Crane drunkenly hunted her down with a gun while she hid out at a friend’s house.

“I’ve got a crazy guy knocking on my door and he’s trying to get in my apartment,” the caller said.

When asked how somebody like that winds up as a school resource officer, Samantha Crane replied “that’s a good question.” She claims that when she took the abuse concerns to the Pinellas Sheriff’s Office, deputies would not take it seriously until she had a protective order in hand.

In an earlier interview with 8 On Your Side, Fromme shared similar sentiments.

“Who are they going to believe, a sworn officer of the law, or a civilian?” Fromme asked rhetorically.

“You’ve got an ex-wife and a wife calling, saying we need help with this guy,” Samantha Crane explained. “Nothing.”

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office disputes that. A spokesperson explained the department had no jurisdiction to investigate. They did, however, launch an internal review which resulted in Crane’s suspension and removal of his gun and badge.

Crane’s attorney tells 8 On Your Side the former deputy has nothing to say, other than he denies all allegations.

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