A complaint filed with a U.S. District Court in Florida accuses former NASCAR driver Rick Crawford of trying to pay for sex with a minor, a fictitious 12-year-old girl used in a police investigation. Crawford was taken into custody upon arriving for the encounter, where he thought he was meeting the girl’s father.
Crawford, 59, was a full-time driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from 1997 to 2009. He then became the manager and promoter for a local track called Mobile International Speedway in Alabama for two years before agreeing to crew chief an ARCA Racing Series car, according to AL.com.
Crawford was arrested in Florida last week and is being held on no bond in the Seminole County Jail, according to the Orlando Sentinel. He faces a federal charge of attempted enticement of a minor, despite claiming in custody he wouldn’t have gone through with the encounter if the girl was actually underage.
The criminal complaint and arrest come after an investigation by the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, in which officer Steven McElyea claims to have started working undercover around Feb. 10 by posting an ad online for people “looking for that dark taboo experience.” According to the complaint, a person later identified as Crawford responded to the advertisement on Feb. 10 saying “Let’s do it” along with a physical description of himself. Posing undercover, McElyea said in the complaint he responded to Crawford by saying he was a 50-year-old “taboo dad” with a 12-year-old daughter who “also accepts donations.”
McElyea goes on to explain the alleged conversation history with Crawford, which appears to have gone on for about two and a half weeks. According to the complaint, the two agreed on Crawford paying between $50 and $75 for sexual activity with McElyea’s fictitious 12-year-old daughter. The agreement included “oral both ways and just straight sex” with the father watching, according to a text message McElyea said he sent to Crawford.
Crawford also asked for photos of the fictitious child and McElyea responded with photos of a coworker who was about 12 years old at the time, according to the complaint. McElyea also said in the complaint that he asked Crawford if he had done this before, to which McElyea claims Crawford said, “Paid for it. Yes.”
Upon meeting for the encounter in a parking lot and identifying themselves, McElyea said in the complaint he told Crawford his daughter was in the back of his van naked and asked if he wanted to see her. Crawford said he did and got out of his car, according to the complaint, and police apprehended him then.
Crawford denied being there to meet anyone “underage” or “illegal” in police questioning, according to the complaint, despite McElyea claiming to have said multiple times the daughter was underage and leaving school for the encounter. The complaint said Crawford admitted that the messages indicated the daughter was 12, but that he found it hard to believe and showed up to see if it was true. If it was, Crawford said, he wouldn’t have gone through with underage sex.
A preliminary court hearing for Crawford is set for Thursday. The full complaint and allegations against Crawford in the investigation are below.
Update, March 9 at 10:35 a.m. ESPN reports that Crawford pleaded not guilty to the charges in the complaint, and that his trial is set for May 7. If found guilty, he faces 10 or more years in jail.