Do you remember being 7 years old? The most important things to you were probably your toys and your friends, though you were developing other interests. And while you secretly may have liked going to school so that could see your friends, you had learned to pretend that you didn’t because that isn’t cool.
You knew your Mommy and your Daddy, or her husband or boyfriend went to bed together- but most likely you assumed they went to bed to sleep just like you. You may have known there was a word called sex- but most likely you didn’t know what it meant.
There is a little girl- I don’t know her, have only recently heard of her. She was 7, just like you used to be. One day she was like you- then the next day she was ‘different’. She had a secret. It wasn’t really her secret, but she didn’t know that. It was a secret that she couldn’t tell her friends, her teachers or even her Mommy. You see- Mommy’s boyfriend had allegedly raped her.
It didn’t stop after one time. It continued- she was 8, she was 9, she was 10, she was 11, and finally till she was 12. Then it stopped.
This little girl grew up with that secret. She is now an adult. She finally gathered the courage to tell. She told investigators ‘her’ secret. She followed though in the investigation. She most likely had to tell everything she could remember about each assault. And in the telling- she would have relived it in her mind.
The case went to court and Richard Crawford pleaded guilty to the charges. But then he withdrew his plea and said he was innocent. Never the less, a jury heard the case and they believed. They made their judgement. Richard Crawford was convicted in Dec. 2006 of not one not two, but of 390 charges out of the 503 he was tried for. Those charges included statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and other charges. Many of those charges have mandatory 5 year sententences. If run concurrently, Crawford would be in jail for the rest of his life.
The judge has allowed him to remain on bail until his sentencing. After a conviction of a sexual crime, it is standard for the perpetrators to be evaluated by the State Offender Association Board has said that evaluation determined that Crawford was a violent predator.
But despite the conviction, despite the State Offender Association Board classification the judge has refused to set a sentencing date. And it is now 3 months later, and Crawford is still out on bail.
Like I said, I don’t know the girl. But from what she went through with Crawford to what she has gone through with the justice system, I can only say that I believe this is a very strong, very couragous person. And like everyone else, she needs to feel safe. She needs to feel that the man who hurt her, can no longer hurt her. And she needs to know that all that she has gone through made her safe again. But she cannot, because she knows that Crawford is still free.
I don’t know what the judge has been doing in the last three months or what he has thought about as he has played his golf games or worked in his garden or done whatever it is that he does.
But I do have to wonder if he has given any consideration to what Crawford is doing. How many other children has he preyed upon since he last preyed upon this little girl? Children who are too afraid to tell what has happened. And after all, he is possibly going to be locked up for life. In prison, he won’t have access to children any more. So is he looking to make memories to last that lifetime by preying on another child? A child maybe too scared to come forward? Or is he planning to run away from his sentence, evade being put away for life? Both of those things have happened in other cases.
Someone is going to ask, “That happened in Pennsylvania- why would that affect me?” And I am very glad to answer that question. If he runs, there is always a chance he will end up in your neighborhood.
That young woman went above and beyond to stop him from doing this to anyone else and to try to get justice. The investigators and others did their jobs in determining what happened. The district attorney did his job in taking it to trial and proving his case and winning a conviction. The jury did their job in hearing the case, hearing the witnesses and coming to a judgement. The defense attorney even did his job in providing a defense at trial.
After he is sentenced, Crawford always has the right to appeal if he disagrees with his sentence. But that appeal does not begin until after he is sentenced. And that appeal is not the judge’s job.
Now it is up to Judge Daniel Howsare to do his job in providing justice for this young woman and to keep our children safe. All he has to do is sentence the man according to the mandatory sentencing guidelines. The investigation, the trial, the conviction has all been done for him. Now all he has to do is follow the law.
Now I don’t know the judge. But it does seem like one of those cases when he may need to be reminded that he is there to mete out justice and to help keep society safe. He has had three months to “think” about it.
You can help. Get in touch with him, tell him what you expect of a sitting judge. Tell him you expect him to take the actions needed to mete out justice and to follow the law. Tell him you expect him to do all he can to keep our children safe.
Judge Daniel L. Howsare
Courtroom No. 1
Bedford PA 15522
Phone: (814) 623-4810