By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
A Cullman man who was convicted in August of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse of a child was sentenced to 60 years in prison following his court date on October 30.
Clarence Christopher Craft, 55, was arrested in the fall of 2011 for allegedly abusing a relative for multiple years and was convicted on the charges after two and a half days in circuit court in August. On October 30, 2013, Craft received the maximum sentence of 20 years per charge to be served consecutively. District Attorney Wilson Blaylock said it was an extremely emotional trial, but they were pleased with the outcome and hard work of everyone involved.
“After trying the case and all the evidence was heard, the jury gave a guilty verdict on each charge and I think it was an appropriate sentence for the horrible, horrible acts he committed against the child,” Blaylock said. “There’s nothing that can be done to give the childhood back to the victim, but I thought it was an appropriate sentence for the acts that occurred.”
Blaylock said there is a chance of parole with each sentence, but the District Attorney’s office will not support any type of parole for Craft.
“The Department of Corrections would determine parole, but we will be down there and if it comes up, we will oppose any type of parole,” Blaylock said. “We’re going to do everything to keep in him in jail as long as we can. It was a very emotional trial with the family having to re-live it and the details of the case.”
Cullman City Police Lieutenant Gene Bates investigated the case which began after allegations were reported to investigators on September 12, 2011.
“It takes a lot of courage for a victim to come forward and report something like this, but she also followed the case through and testified in court,” Bates said. “You can’t really say you’re excited because it’s a sad situation, but I’m very pleased with the verdict. Those who prosecuted the case, they deserve the credit of the conviction; They did an outstanding job. I know at night when everyone else would go home, they were still there working on it. They put a lot of effort into it and went above and beyond in my opinion, the dedication to their jobs and this case did not go unnoticed.”
Deputy District Attorney John Bryant tried the case under Judge Greg Nicholas in Circuit Court. Trial Coordinator Lynicia Lovell assisted the case, as well as Gail Swafford with the Cullman Advocacy Center. Blaylock said Lovell, Bryant, and Swafford all did a great job.
“I am proud of our staff, a lot of man hours went into the prosecution of this case,” Blaylock said. “Law enforcement, investigation, Gene Bates in particular, all played a huge part. It’s a hard case to try, but you know you are doing the right thing and justice was truly served in this case.”
* Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.