GRIMES COUNTY, Texas (FOX 44) — 79-year-old Robert Shannon Crawford was found guilty of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child by a Grimes County Jury on Thursday.
The offense occurred in 1995, according to the Grimes County District Attorney’s Office. The Navasota Police Department responded to a report of a child being sexually assaulted on June 12, 2021. A detective was assigned to investigate and discovered a 14-year-old boy was sexually assaulted by Crawford on three different occasions. The last incident occurred in 2020.
The detective received information about a second sexual abuse victim on June 25, 2021. This information was provided by one of Crawford’s relatives, who became aware of the recent sexual abuse report to law enforcement. The detective continued to interview witnesses and gather information.
The investigation later uncovered an aggravated sexual assault from 1995. In this incident, Crawford impregnated a twelve-year-old girl. When Crawford learned about the pregnancy, he took the child to an abortion clinic in Houston – where the pregnancy was aborted. This was not previously reported.
Through further investigation, the detective found corroborating witnesses, to whom Crawford admitted portions of the 1995 sexual assault and/or subsequent abortion. The 1995 victim was also interviewed, who confirmed she was sexually assaulted by Crawford in his home. The victim was living in Navasota at the time of the offense.
The detective received information about a third sexual abuse victim on June 28, 2021. The information was provided by an adult woman, who became aware of the ongoing investigation into child sexual abuse allegations involving Crawford. The woman told the detective that hearing about the allegations triggered a memory from her childhood.
The witness told the detective that as a teenager in the 1970s, a childhood friend told her a “horror story” about Crawford. The story involved Crawford committing Indecency with a Child with the teenage victim. In the early 1970s, Crawford and the teenage girl lived near each other in Conroe, Texas.
A District Attorney’s Office Investigator met with the detective at the Navasota Police Department on September 4, 2021, to conduct a non-custodial interview with Crawford. During a nearly two-hour interview, the investigator obtained multiple admissions from Crawford related to the sexual assault reported by the 14-year-old boy. The investigator also obtained a confession to the 1995 sexual assault of the twelve-year-old girl.
During the interview, Crawford provided details about having the victim urinate in a container and taking the sample to a clinic for testing after becoming suspicious the victim was pregnant. Upon verifying a pregnancy, Crawford confirmed he drove the victim to an abortion clinic in Houston. He also verified that he admitted portions of this incident to three different witnesses in the years since the offense took place.
Near the end of the interview, Crawford told the investigator he had just sold his home in Navasota – and had a one-way ticket to Mexico the next day. Following the interview, an arrest warrant was obtained through the Navasota Municipal Court. Crawford was arrested later in the same day by patrol officers of the Navasota Police Department. At the time of his arrest, Crawford had a passport in his possession and was wearing an under belt designed to hide money.
The detective received information about a fourth sexual abuse victim on September 8, 2021. The information was provided by the victim, who now lives near Mexico City. She also became aware of the ongoing child sexual abuse investigation involving Crawford.
The victim was born in Mexico. She came to the United States with a relative, who was romantically involved with Crawford in the mid-1980s. They lived with Crawford in Navasota. The victim attended fifth grade in Navasota during the 1986-1987 school year. While living with Crawford, the victim described continuous sexual abuse – ranging from Indecency with a Child to Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. Crawford eventually took the victim back to Mexico and left her. At the time of these crimes, the victim was ten years old.
During a week-long trial presided over by 506th District Court Judge Gary Chaney, District Attorney Andria Bender and Assistant District Attorney David Armbruster put on evidence to prove the 1995 aggravated sexual assault of a child indictment. Evidence included testimony from the 1995 victim, corroborating witnesses and law enforcement officers, a recorded phone call between Crawford and a witness where Crawford admitted to the 1995 sexual assault and a recorded confession obtained by the investigator. The jurors also heard from the 1986 and 2020 sexual assault victims, who were part of extraneous offense evidence put on by Prosecutors.
Both victims detailed the sexual abuse they endured from Crawford. The jury found Crawford guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child after just 15 minutes of deliberation.
The jury then heard punishment evidence in the second phase of the trial. Prosecutors put on two witnesses – the 1995 victim and Dr. Roy Luepnitz, who is a licensed sex offender treatment provider. The jury returned a punishment verdict of life in prison and gave him the maximum allowable fine of $10,000.
The Grimes County District Attorney’s Office says Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child is a first-degree felony. The range of punishment is five to 99 years or life in prison. The defendant had no prior criminal history. Crawford is currently in custody in the Grimes County Jail, and is awaiting transfer to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.