Ex-Hardaway player who signed with Atlanta Falcons accused of molesting 12-year-old

A former Hardaway High School football star who signed on with the Atlanta Falcons before being cut from the team Sept. 1 was arrested Saturday on charges of having sex with a 12-year-old girl.

Columbus police said Justin Crawford, 23, is charged with aggravated child molestation, sodomy and enticing a child for indecent purposes. He’s being held without bond in the Muscogee County Jail.

During Crawford’s preliminary hearing Monday, police said his wife awoke at 5 a.m. Saturday and walked into her living room, where she saw her husband had an erection as he stood over a 12-year-old girl.

The wife went back to sleep in their home off Wynnton Road, but she did not rest easy, worrying about what she had seen, Detective Mark Scruggs testified in Columbus Recorder’s Court.

Crawford’s wife Chakeya Crawford called the Ledger-Enquirer later Monday to object to that account. She said that when she came downstairs and saw her husband in the living room, he had no erection that she noticed, but his penis was exposed, and he immediately ran from the living room into the kitchen to cover up.

“I did not see anyone having sex, or I would have called police right away,” she said.

She said she questioned her husband, who told her, “You scared me. That’s why I ran.” He denied any wrongdoing, and she initially gave him the benefit of the doubt, she said. Because it was 5 a.m., she decided to go back to bed and revisit the matter later, she said.

ROBIN TRIMARCHI rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com2013 Dandy Dozen: Justin Crawford - Hardaway High junior running back. 08.04.13 ROBIN TRIMARCHI

Later she took the 12-year-old to the child’s mother, who asked what had happened. That’s when the girl reported she had been asleep in the living room when Crawford came in and had her perform oral sex on him before they had intercourse, Scruggs said.

The girl was taken for a medical exam that included compiling a “sex assault kit” to collect any DNA evidence, Scruggs said.

When police questioned Crawford, he initially denied any sexual contact with the girl, Scruggs said. Crawford later admitted having oral sex and intercourse with her, but claimed the sex was her idea, the detective said.

Judge Julius Hunter found probable cause to send the case to Muscogee Superior Court, and ordered Crawford held without bond.

While at Hardaway during his junior and senior years, Crawford played quarterback, running back, receiver, safety and punter. He was named Offensive Player of the Year as a senior, rushing for 825 yards and seven touchdowns.

He started his collegiate career at Northwest Mississippi Community College for two seasons before transferring to West Virginia University, where he rushed for 2,244 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons as a Mountaineer.

Crawford was an exceptional running back who rushed for 331 yards in a game against Oklahoma in 2016, when he was a college junior.

Crawford signed on with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent on May 1. He was released with others cut from the roster this past September.