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PRINCETON — A Bureau County man who pleaded guilty in November to aggravated sexual criminal abuse to a 15-year-old minor was sentenced Wednesday to 3 years in prison.
Darren Crow, 45, of Ladd also was ordered to register as a sex offender and pay court costs and fines.
Bureau County Associate Circuit Judge C.J. Hollerich scheduled a surrender date for Crow at 9 a.m. Feb. 4. Hollerich said he wouldn’t normally order a surrender date, but due to medical circumstances in Crow’s family, he won’t have to serve prison time until that date.
During the sentence hearing, Bureau County Sgt. Investigator Gary Becket testified that during an investigation of the case, he learned that a sexual relationship between Crow and the minor began in October 2011. The relationship continued until the victim reported it in January. The victim had reported to Becket that there had been roughly 15-20 instances in various locations, including in a church parking lot, inside Crow’s car and inside Crow’s residence and inside Crow’s residence in Ladd. Becket said phone records had shown a “high volume” of texts and phone calls between Crow and the victim at all hours of the day during this time.
Becket said during an initial interview with Crow, he denied all allegations. After the interview, however the victim’s family reported that Crow had changed his name on Facebook and had tried to make contact with the victim.
Under the new name on Facebook, Crow and the victim made plans to meet up at “an outside building” in Seatonville. Becket said the night the meeting took place, he parked his vehicle out of sight of the meeting place and waited until he saw Crow’s vehicle pull into the meeting place. When Becket identified Crow he approached the scene, issued a warrant to Crow and conducted a felony arrest.
It was learned in court that Crow’s family and the victim’s family had known each other for a long time.
After Crow and the victim read statements in court on Wednesday, Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann requested a 4-year prison sentence for Crow. He said the court should consider factors including the age difference between Crow and the victim and the short-term or long-term effects the situation may have on the victim.
Crow’s attorney, Doug Olivero, asked the judge to consider lowering the state’s requested prison sentence to probation. Considerations to lower the sentence included the fact that Crow had pleaded guilty, had lived a law-abiding life and had a minimal criminal history with no previous convictions related to the matter.
The court went into a 50-minute recess while judge Hollerich deliberated the sentence. When he returned he discussed several factors of why he felt sentencing Crow to probation would deprecate the seriousness of the case and how a 4-year prison sentence wasn’t necessary. He settled on the minimum prison sentence for a Class 2 felony. Crow is credited serving one day of his prison sentence.