Prison for child-sex offender who spurred York Twp. manhunt
A man who spurred a six-hour manhunt in York Township while on the run from child-sex charges — and who stole guns from his parents' home and pointed one of them at a family member of his victim — has been sentenced to state prison.
Austin Michael Craley appeared in York County Court on Monday and pleaded guilty in four cases to charges of statutory sexual assault, corruption of a minor, theft, making terroristic threats and being in illegal possession of a firearm, according to deputy prosecutor Kara Bowser.
He was sentenced to 3½ to seven years in state prison, plus eight years of probation, Bowser said, and will receive credit for the prison time he has served.
"He is remorseful," defense attorney Tom Kelley said. "He realizes that he, (a), needs to do a lot of work on himself and, (b), that he is going to have a tough time in (prison)."
The statutory sexual assault case was filed in 2015, and the other three cases stemmed from that offense. Prior to the 2015 charges, Craley didn't have a criminal history, according to Kelley, who said Craley does not have to register as a Megan's Law sex offender.
"By all accounts he was a good kid, and he just did seriously wrong in this case," the attorney said. "I think if he works hard, he can turn his life around."
Craley, 21, was charged in Chester County with fleeing police, an offense that allegedly happened while he was on the run from his York County charges, Bowser confirmed. Court records indicate the fleeing charge was dropped when Craley instead pleaded guilty to summary disorderly conduct.
The background: Craley began a sexual relationship with his victim when she was 13 and he was 19, according to court documents, which state that Craley took the girl out of town and out of state on a couple of occasions without her mother's knowledge.
The girl initially denied she and Craley were sexually involved, but later admitted it, police have said. That's when York Area Regional Detective Donald Hopple Jr. filed statutory sexual assault charges against Craley.
On April 15, while he was free on bail, Craley went to the York Township home of his 14-year-old victim and, using house keys he had been given, tried to break in, according to documents filed by Hopple.
A man who lives there went to the front door to investigate after hearing a noise and saw Craley, documents state. The fugitive had already used a key to unlock the door knob and was trying to unlock a deadbolt when the man yelled through the door, police said. Bowser confirmed the man was the victim's mother's live-in boyfriend.
Missing guns: Craley responded to the man's yelling by pulling a handgun from his waistband and pointing it at him through the door window, Hopple wrote. Craley then ran off.
Police went to the nearby home of Craley's parents at Royal Court at Waterford to look for him, but his parents said they hadn't seen him in more than two weeks, according to documents. Craley's parents allowed officers to search the home.
After officers told them Craley had just brandished a gun, Craley's father discovered three of his handguns had been stolen — a Ruger .40-caliber, a Ruger 9 mm and a Sig Sauer .380, according to documents.
Manhunt: That's when the manhunt for Craley began. Officers searched on the ground for the fugitive, and a state police helicopter searched the wooded areas by air, police said.
He was captured May 3 by Springettsbury Township Police after a tipster alerted police that Craley was at the York Galleria mall.
Craley had three guns in his backpack at the time of his arrest but offered no resistance to officers, police have said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.