Charges against Suffolk teacher are certified

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

A Norfolk general district court judge determined Wednesday that prosecutors have enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against a Suffolk middle school teacher.

Jerome K. Crawford, 25, a seventh grade teacher at Forest Glen Middle School, was arrested by Norfolk Police March 16 for attempting to initiate sexual contact with a minor.

Crawford waived his preliminary hearing Wednesday, and two felony charges were certified against him: attempting to commit a non-capital felony (attempted indecent liberties); and electronic means for procuring minors for obscene material, said Amanda Howie, director of communications for the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

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The case will go to the grand jury on August 16, she said.

Norfolk Special Crimes Unit Investigators arrested Crawford for soliciting sex from what he thought was a 14-year-old girl. The arrest was the result of an undercover online investigation where officers performed a general check of various chat rooms. Crawford contacted an investigator, who posed as a 14-year-old female as part of the sting operation.

They arranged, online, a time and place to meet, according to a police news release. Crawford arrived at the predetermined location, a parking lot in the 5900 block of Virginia Beach Boulevard in Norfolk. He was taken into custody without incident.

School officials sent a letter home with students to let parents know that the children’s safety is their first priority.

In the letter, Superintendent Milton Liverman wrote that “Suffolk Public Schools has always stressed an open line of communication between parents and the schools. Administrators want to assure you that the safety of each and every child is a major concern for the school division.”

As such, the letter continued to explain that Crawford had been arrested as part of sting operation, but did not state the crime committed.

“Because of the arrest, Crawford has been placed on administrative leave until the allegations are resolved through the judicial system. The school division is making no judgment on the charges at this time because nothing during his tenure at Forest Glen Middle School has suggested any type of misconduct. He was hired by Suffolk Public Schools in August 2004, and received clearance on his criminal and his sex offender registry background checks,” the letter read.