A husband and wife in New York pleaded guilty to an array of abuses inflicted on a young girl in their care over a period of several months.
According to the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin, 28-year-old Justin Crandall and 27-year-old Jessica Crandall faced an impending trial Friday when they both accepted deals to plead guilty to multiple felony counts.
The abuse of a 17-month-old girl began when the couple started babysitting her in November, prosecutors say. Authorities first received a report of the allegations in February and began an investigation.
Local, state and federal investigators were involved in the case, which included searches of the suspects’ home that reportedly netted evidence including sexually explicit content on Justin Crandall’s cellphone involving the young victim.
Authorities accused the couple of what a judge in the case called “barbaric acts,” which are described in court records.
Justin Crandall “admitted he touched the minor female child in a sexual manner,” documents state, and blamed the behavior on his use of methamphetamine.
Reports indicate Jessica Crandall told investigators that “repeated sexual activities” with the toddler began in December.
Police initially became aware of the suspected abuse on Feb. 11, when an individual reported receiving a cellphone message including an image of child pornography, according to the Independent. Investigators came to believe Justin Crandall had been molesting the toddler and recording the abuse.
Their suspicions increased after the victim’s mother reported unexplained behavioral changes and physical injuries during the period the Crandalls acted as babysitters.
A criminal trial had been scheduled to begin next week.
Prior to their guilty pleas, both defendants faced federal charges of felony conspiracy to sexually exploit a child and five counts of sexual exploitation of a child. Justin Crandall was indicted on an additional count of distributing child pornography.
Sentencing will be determined in February, but they face a minimum of 15 years in federal prison.
[Featured image: New York State Police]