A former Georgia high school football standout who briefly signed with the Atlanta Falcons accepted a plea deal Tuesday in a child molestation case, according to multiple media reports.
Justin Crawford, who played running back at Hardaway High School in Columbus and West Virginia University, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl, TMZ reported. The 24-year-old was sentenced to 12 years in prison followed by eight years of probation.
Crawford was arrested by Columbus police last October on charges of incest, sodomy and enticing a child for indecent purposes, AJC.com previously reported.
Columbus police Detective Mark Scruggs said in a preliminary hearing that Crawford’s wife, Chakeya, walked into her living room about 5 a.m. Oct. 13 to find her husband with an erection as he stood over the child, the Ledger-Enquirer reported.
However, she told the newspaper her husband’s penis was exposed but not erect. She said she confronted him about it, he denied any wrongdoing and she decided to go back to bed.
She took the 12-year-old to the child’s mother later, and that’s when the girl said she had been asleep in the living room when Crawford came in and had her perform oral sex on him before they had intercourse, Scruggs said.
Crawford initially denied any sexual contact with the girl, but he later admitted to having oral sex and intercourse with her but claimed it was her idea, Scruggs said. As part of his plea deal, the other charges he faced were dropped, TMZ reported.
Crawford signed with the Falcons in May 2018 as an undrafted free agent but was among 36 players released in September during the preseason.
Credit: Kevin C. Cox
Credit: Kevin C. Cox
He was on the roster for the now-defunct Atlanta Legends in the Alliance of American Football league but was suspended by the team after being arrested, according to The Associated Press.
Zachary Hansen, a Georgia native, covers economic development and commercial real estate for the AJC. He's been with the newspaper since 2018 and enjoys diving into complex stories that affect people's lives.