20210330-LOC-james crawford

Crawford

An Alstead man awaiting trial on multiple sexual-assault charges was indicted this month on three additional charges alleging he sexually assaulted a different child in the years before his arrest.

Meanwhile, proceedings are scheduled to determine whether James D. Crawford, 33, is mentally competent to stand trial in the first case.

Crawford was taken into custody in January 2020, after fleeing on foot from officers who were trying to arrest him on aggravated felonious sexual assault and other charges, N.H. State Police said at the time.

Prosecutors allege he beat and raped a teenage girl in spring 2019. An additional batch of charges brought nine months after his arrest alleged that he had sexually assaulted the same girl multiple times before then.

A new case was brought this month, when Cheshire County prosecutors obtained indictments charging Crawford with three counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault alleging he touched the genitals of a different child at least twice between 2014 and his arrest in 2020. The child was under 13 at the time, according to the indictments.

That case is separate from the 2020 case, and he has yet to be arraigned.

In the earlier case, Crawford initially represented himself before getting an attorney, Lisa Wellman-Ally, in November. However, more recently, Crawford informed her he no longer wanted her services and wished to represent himself again, Wellman-Ally wrote in a motion to withdraw as his attorney.

Wellman-Ally also asked the court to evaluate whether Crawford is competent to stand trial. “The continued incarceration of the Defendant appears to be causing a deterioration of his mental state so that he is becoming more obsessed with ‘righting wrongs’ done to him by the judicial system, [than] discussing realistic defenses to this matter,” she wrote.

Assistant Cheshire County Attorney Keith Clouatre wrote in response that while a competency evaluation is not up to the prosecution, he does not necessarily believe that Crawford is incompetent, noting he “filed numerous motions of his own volition” while representing himself. (That included motions last year accusing authorities of malfeasance and calling for investigations into the court system and the county jail.)

Clouatre acknowledged, however, that Crawford’s mental state could have changed “and the issue is always his competence at the current moment.”

Cheshire County Superior Court Judge David W. Ruoff has ordered that the N.H. Office of the Forensic Examiner conduct an evaluation of Crawford’s competency, which will remain confidential. A hearing to determine competency is scheduled for May 25.

In addition to multiple counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, Crawford is also charged with witness tampering and falsifying physical evidence. He has pleaded not guilty.

Paul Cuno-Booth can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or pbooth@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @PCunoBoothKS