SALT LAKE CITY — During a sentencing hearing Monday for a man who admitted to sexually abusing six young girls, a mother of two of his victims said the abuse has "haunted our family so much."
The mother said she and her young daughters have nightmares because of the acts of James Gerald Crawford, 44, of Salt Lake City, whom she had viewed as a brother and whom her kids had viewed as an uncle.
The family has since had to move more than 200 miles away because of what happened, she said.
As he listened to the accounts of parents, Crawford sat in a yellow jail uniform, with his hands shackled and head down. Third District Judge Paul Parker sentenced him to two consecutive prison terms of 15 years to life.
Two additional prison terms of 15 years to life and one to 15 years were ordered to run concurrently to the others.
Crawford pleaded guilty in July to three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony, and one count of sex abuse of a child, a second-degree felony.
As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Crawford admitted in 3rd District Court to inappropriately touching three girls he baby-sat in 2016 and 2017, court records show. Roughly a decade earlier, he also touched three other girls in similar ways, plea documents state.
According to charging documents, Crawford told police that he "has urges to touch children sexually, and that he has had those urges since his 20s and that he started exploring those urges about 10 years ago."
In exchange for his pleas, three remaining counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count sodomy on a child, first-degree felonies, were dismissed. A charge of lewdness involving a child, a class A misdemeanor, was also dismissed.
A father from another family with two victims told the judge during the hearing, "It makes us upset that nothing was done until now."
"I would like to apologize to all the families" who were also victimized by Crawford, the father said.
The man said that his children who suffered at the hands of Crawford have told him "I feel in danger whenever I go outside," he said.
"It's about time," the father said of Crawford finally facing the consequences of his actions.
Another father of a victim tearfully declined to comment during the hearing.
After listening to the parents' comments, Crawford apologized for the pain he caused and promised that he wouldn't do it again.
"I do … apologize to the victims that I harmed. And that me myself being a victim of child sexual abuse myself as a young kid, I understand what they're feeling and what they're saying. I have to atone for what I've done," Crawford said.
Before he handed down the sentence, Parker said Crawford's words will never repay the families, who despite the apology will continue to suffer as a result of the abuse before.
This is not the first time Crawford has faced allegations of sex abuse. In 2014, Crawford was charged in 3rd District Court with forcible sodomy, a first-degree felony. That case was dismissed due to lack of evidence, according to court records.