A federal jury needed two hours of deliberation Thursday to find former NASCAR driver Rick Crawford guilty of enticing a minor following a two-day trial in federal court in Orlando, according to court records.
Crawford, who won five races while competing from 1997 to 2013 in NASCAR's truck series, was arrested Feb. 28 and indicted in March on allegations he arranged to pay $50 to $75 to have sex with a 12-year-old girl, which would be lewd and lascivious assault under Florida law. After two days of testimony and then closing arguments in U.S. District Court in Orlando, the jury found Crawford guilty of violating federal law of enticing a minor for a criminal sexual activity.
He was taken into custody following the verdict.
Crawford, 60, faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 10 years in federal prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 26.
According to the complaint, Crawford responded to a Craigslist ad in which a federal agent posed as a man seeking people who "are looking for that dark taboo experience" and the agent eventually told Crawford he could pay to have sex with his (fictitious) 12-year-old daughter. Crawford, the complaint states, texted the agent "Love for her to be naked and ready" and requested photos of the girl he allegedly believed he would be meeting and told the agent he could watch them.
When Crawford arrived at the arranged meeting place, he was arrested and found to have $80 and a condom in his pocket.
Crawford took the stand in his own defense Wednesday. In his interview with police following his arrest, he said he would not have gone through with any activity if he believed the girl was underage.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.
After his arrest, NASCAR removed Crawford from its list of industry experts who could hear appeals of penalties.