PAXTON, Ill. (WCIA) — Arthuro L Crawford, 52, formerly of Maywood, Ill., was found guilty by Ford County jury of one count of criminal sexual assault, two counts of aggravated domestic battery and a count of unlawful restraint.
Ford County State’s Attorney Andrew Killian stated that Monday night’s convictions stemmed from incidents occurring in Paxton, Ill. from Sept. 2-4, 2022. It was alleged that Crawford, who had recently moved to Paxton to live with his girlfriend, sexually assaulted her the morning of Sept. 2 before committing several acts of violence against her over the next two days. As a result of the domestic batteries, the victim suffered a shattered nose, a broken eye socket, a concussion, and multiple other injuries, some of which required surgery to repair.
In his closing argument, Killian argued that Crawford, who was armed with a firearm during the incidents, used fear and threats of further violence, including a gang rape to control the victim preventing her from fleeing the residence. Testimony indicated that it was only after Crawford fell asleep late Sunday, Sept. 4, that the victim was able to escape the home seeking assistance from a nearby neighbor who then contacted law enforcement.
When asked to describe what she felt as Crawford beat and threatened her over the Labor Day weekend, the victim told the jury that her worst fear was that her elderly mother would come to the home and find her dead.
Killian indicated that thorough police work by multiple officers of the Paxton Police Department helped secure the guilty verdicts specifically noting work by Officer Destiny Thornsbrough who was the first on scene, and who made the initial contact and connection with the victim allowing her to open up about everything she had been through.
Chad Johnson, Ford County Sheriff (formerly of the Paxton Police Department), Sergeant Stewart Stafford, and Captain Robert Yates were also commended for their work in securing the residence and collecting the evidence used during the trial.
“As always though, the key to any conviction in these types of cases is the willingness of the victim to stand up against their assailant and tell a group of complete strangers the terrible things inflicted upon them,” Killian said.
“This case was no exception and the poise with which the victim carried herself through a full day of testimony and cross-examination was in clear contrast to Mr. Crawford’s testimony which, at times, contradicted itself and prior statements he made about the events of that weekend.”
During his testimony, the state’s attorney said that Crawford would oftentimes blurt statements out and try to talk over the attorneys drawing several warnings from Judge Matthew Fitton about his behavior on the stand. He said that Crawford’s behavior became so inappropriate at times that Judge Fitton, outside the presence of the jury, warned Crawford that he could be held in contempt or removed from the courtroom.
Attorney Harvey Welch, who represented Crawford, argued that while it was clear that something occurred to the victim over the weekend in question, it was not clear that his client was responsible.
Following the five-day trial, the jury composed of nine women and three men, deliberated for approximately 25 minutes before coming to a guilty verdict.
Crawford is set for sentencing March 14, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. and faces a maximum of 15 years in prison. He has two pending cases remaining relating to allegations that on two separate occasions he, using a third party, made contact with his victim in an attempt to intimidate her from cooperating with the prosecution.
Killian also thanked the support system helping victims of sexually based offenses through the trial process in Ford County. This includes Victim-Witness Coordinator Kasi Schwarz and representatives from Clove Alliance.
“Kasi and the Clove advocate are a team that help support, inform, and when necessary, provide comfort to victims, and their assistance during this trial helped the victim face Crawford and overcome her fears of testifying against him,” Killian said.