A Sidney couple face new charges after a federal grand jury Friday indicted them in what a prosecutor called the sexual “torture” of a child.
Justin Crandall, 28, and his wife, Jessica Crandall, 27, pleaded not guilty in February after the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Binghamton filed child sexual exploitation charges. On Friday, the grand jury in federal court handed up a seven-count indictment against the couple.
The indictment brings the following felony charges against the Crandalls: one count of conspiracy to sexually exploit a child, along with five counts of sexual exploitation of a child. In addition, Justin Crandall was indicted on a felony count of distribution of child pornography.
Arraignments will be scheduled in federal court, as a result of Friday’s indictment. The Crandalls are being held in the Delaware County jail.
Court papers say Justin Crandall’s alleged abuse of the victim, a 17-month-old girl, were tied to his methamphetamine addiction. His wife, Jessica Crandall, stands accused of participating in the abuses, which allegedly spanned between November in 2016 until Feb. 13, 2017.
The indictment also says the Crandalls allegedly victimized the child on five separate dates in January and February, engaging sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing one or more “visual depictions” of such conduct.
Justin Crandall is also accused of sending a sexually explicit image of the victim over the internet by use of a cellphone, according to the indictment.
When the Crandalls were initially brought to federal court on Feb. 17, Assistant U.S. Attorney Miroslav Lovric said both defendants conspired to “sexually torture” the victim.
A criminal investigation by state police and the FBI resulted in their arrests and court papers describe the allegations in graphic detail.
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.”
Court papers say Jessica Crandall was later 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.
If convicted of the federal charges, the defendants face up to 30 years in prison.