Hanna Boys Center head John Crews resigns after sexual misconduct allegation

The Rev. John Crews has resigned as executive director of the Hanna Boys Center following an allegation of sexual misconduct with a boy in the 1970s, prior to his arrival at the Sonoma Valley facility for troubled youth.

Longtime friends said they were stunned by the Catholic priest's resignation, which stemmed from a complaint brought by relatives of the alleged victim, who is deceased. Crews' departure was announced Wednesday to staff and students.

The sprawling campus on Arnold Drive has been home to more than 3,400 boys since it opened in 1949. It has become part of the fabric of Sonoma Valley, a community institution known for its good works and wide network of financial supporters. It currently operates on a $10.6 million annual budget and is in the midst of an expansion resulting from an ongoing $15 million fund drive.

"It is a difficult day for Hanna Boys Center," said Kris Van Giesen, chief development and community relations officer for the organization.

Alumni from the center, which enrolls students from Sonoma County and around the Bay Area, have become business owners, military commanders, teachers and rap artists, he said.

Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa said the diocese, which has made missteps in handling child sex abuse complaints in the past and paid millions of dollars to victims, followed church and legal requirements in Crews' case.

The priest, ordained in the local diocese in 1971, handled the situation "very graciously," Vasa said.

Crews, who had run the Sonoma Valley center since 1984, was accused of an "inappropriate relationship with a young man" about 40 years ago, Vasa said.

Crews, 67, agreed to resign in a meeting last week with the Rev. Msgr. Daniel Whelton, the Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese's second-highest-ranking official.

Crews will remain a priest in the diocese until he retires, but "will not serve in any other public ministry," the bishop said.

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