Nearly a week after Justin Crandall, 28, and his wife, Jessica Crandall, 27, were arrested by state police, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Binghamton brought new federal criminal charges Friday against the Sidney couple tied to the alleged abuses against a 17-month-old girl. The Crandalls pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to felony counts of conspiracy to sexually exploit a child and sexual exploitation of a child.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 30 years in federal prison. Shackled in a courtroom during Friday’s arraignment before Judge David Peebles, the Crandalls’ faces remained expressionless as Assistant U.S. Attorney Miroslav Lovric said both defendants conspired to “sexually torture” the victim.
Court papers unsealed Friday describe the criminal investigation by state police and the FBI, as well as graphic details outlining alleged child sexual abuse that spanned from December to February.
Law enforcement were alerted Feb. 11 after a witness reported receiving an image depicting a female toddler engaged in a sex act, which Justin Crandall had allegedly sent via cellphone, according to court papers. The child was being babysat by Jessica Crandall at the couple’s Sidney residence, officials said.
Justin Crandall was then brought to the state police headquarters in Sidney to be interviewed by investigators.
In court papers, the FBI stated, “(Justin) Crandall admitted he touched the minor female child in a sexual manner while he was under the influence of methamphetamine. Specifically, when asked if he had engaged in ‘sex’ with the minor female child, (Crandall) asked to define term ‘sex.'”
As a result, troopers charged him on Feb. 11 with felony counts of first-degree rape and promoting sexual performance by a child less than 17 years old, along with misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Investigators then learned from the child’s mother that she had been babysat by the Crandalls since after Thanksgiving, court papers said. The mother noticed some changes in her child’s behavior along with unexplained injuries, according to court papers.
On Monday, court papers say, Jessica Crandall was questioned by state police and she admitted she and her husband engaged in “repeated sexual activities” involving the child going back to the previous December.
Two out of 10 pages in federal court records tied to the case contain graphic details of the alleged abuses.
Jessica Crandall was charged by troopers on Monday with a felony count of first-degree criminal sexual act and a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child.
The charges unsealed Friday are being prosecuted separately from the state-level crimes by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which says the Crandalls also violated federal criminal laws in committing the alleged abuses.
A grand jury is expected to be convened soon to consider a federal indictment against the defendants, Lovric said Friday.
Justin and Jessica Crandall are being held in the Delaware County jail while awaiting further court proceedings.
Police say a married couple was arrested on several charges after a three-day investigation that was sparked by a child pornography complaint.
On Saturday, New York State Police arrested Justin D. Crandall, 28, of Sidney, for allegedly sending sexually explicit photographs of a young child to another person. Crandall was charged with first-degree rape, promoting sexual performance by a child less than 17 years old, both felonies; endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor.
Crandall was arraigned in the Village of Sidney Court and remanded to the Delaware County Jail.
On Monday, Crandall’s wife, Jessica L. Crandall, 27, of Sidney, was found to have sexually abused a child less than 11 years old, police said. She was charged with first-degree criminal sex act, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.
She was arraigned in the Village of Sidney Court and remanded to the Delaware County jail.