A former NCAA and high school football star who had signed with the NFL was sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl.
Justin Crawford, 24, had been a West Virginia University running back with a promising career. But last October, his wife, Chakeya, walked in on as he was standing over the girl undressed.
Columbus, Ga. police Det. Mark Scruggs said in a hearing that the girl said she’d been asleep in the couple’s living room when Crawford approached her, compelled her to perform oral sex on him and then had sex with her. He said when Crawford’s wife walked in on him he had an erection, although she said his genitalia was only exposed, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports.
Crawford, who rushed for more than 2200 yards while in school at West Virginia, signed with the Atlanta Falcons in May 2018 but was released four months later during preseason. He was also a star running back at Hardaway High School in Columbus, about 100 miles south of Atlanta near the Alabama border.
Crawford was arrested in October 2018 after admitting to having sex with the 12-year-old. But he claimed the encounter was the girl’s idea, TMZ reports.
His wife told the Ledger-Enquirer that at the time of the incident, Crawford initially told her that he’d done nothing wrong, but later as she thought about the incident, she felt uneasy and told the child’s mother. The girl was subsequently evaluated by medical professionals and interviewed by police.
Crawford faced felony charges of incest, child molestation sodomy and enticing a child for indecent purposes, but he cut a plea deal with prosecutors that gives him 12 years behind bars and 20 years of probation which will start at the same time as his imprisonment, according to the news organization.
On Tuesday, Crawford showed up to Muscogee County Court in Columbus to enter guilty pleas to the charges.
After his release from the Falcons, Crawford played briefly for the Atlanta Legends with the eight-team Alliance of American Football, but that league is no longer operating.