Editor’s note: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault and other violence. These details are included because of their relevance to the case.
James D. “J.D.” Crawford of Alstead, who was convicted earlier this summer of beating and sexually assaulting a teenage girl, was sentenced Wednesday to 33½ to 77 years in prison.
A Cheshire County Superior Court jury had found Crawford, now 34, guilty in July on eight counts of aggravated sexual assault, in addition to second-degree assault, falsifying evidence and two counts of witness tampering — all felonies.
The charges mostly stem from spring 2019, when Crawford broke the girl’s jaw and raped her about a month later.
Crawford, who represented himself in the trial, had been held at the Cheshire County jail in Keene after his arraignment early last year but was transferred to state prison in August, according to jail Superintendent Doug Iosue. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges and claimed the allegations were invented.
Judge Kenneth C. Brown accepted county prosecutors’ sentencing request Wednesday, telling Crawford at the hearing that in his career he’d seen charges “as vile and disturbing as this” only once.
“I’m hopeful that the incarcerated time is sufficient to render you old and frail and not capable of physically or verbally assaulting anyone ever again,” Brown said.
Testifying at the trial in July, the girl, who is now an adult, said that after he broke her jaw, Crawford and his then-wife, Jennifer Ritchie, made her lie to hospital staff about the incident to protect him. In a separate incident the next month, the girl, who knew Crawford and was 16 at the time, said he beat and raped her that night before later pressuring her to refuse a rape test and lie to police about what had happened.
N.H. State Police arrested Crawford and Ritchie, also of Alstead, in January 2020 after a “lengthy investigation” that began the previous year, State Police said in a news release at the time.
Ritchie, now 39, was charged with witness tampering, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. The felony charge will be dropped in exchange for new misdemeanor charges, however, as part of a plea deal with prosecutors in which she agreed to testify against Crawford, Assistant Cheshire County Attorney Keith Clouatre told The Sentinel in July.
Crawford has a criminal history that includes convictions for domestic violence and felony criminal restraint — the latter from a 2017 case in which he scratched a girlfriend in the face, hit her head against a window, headbutted her and grabbed her by the leg and hair, according to a police affidavit.
In a separate case from the trial held this summer, Cheshire County prosecutors have alleged that he sexually assaulted a different child, who was under 13 at the time, in the years before his 2020 arrest. That case is still pending.