U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Clark on Tuesday sentenced the former municipal prosecuting attorney for Jefferson County, Missouri to 18 months for having coerced sexual contact with a court defendant and lying about it to the FBI.
Judge Clark also ordered James Isaac “Ike” Crabtree to pay the costs of any counseling for the victim.
“James Crabtree repeatedly coerced a woman into sexual activity by offering to help her with pending criminal cases and making her think she risked jail and the loss of her children if she refused,” said U.S. Attorney Sayler Fleming. “The sentence he received should send a message to officials about the consequences of betraying the public’s trust and violating the rights of vulnerable victims.”
After spotting the victim and chatting with her and her boyfriend on March 8, 2021, Crabtree summoned the woman to his office in the courthouse after hours by offering to help her with pending court cases. Crabtree let her in through a side door. The building was dark and they were alone.
Crabtree offered her liquor and prescription drugs. He then referenced two of the victim’s cases that he was prosecuting, and told her that he could help get cases in other courts dismissed, according to a recording that the victim made of the encounter. Crabtree said, “…I can be a very valuable friend,” and unsolicited, gave the victim $300, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith.
After the victim told Crabtree that she was not going to have sex with him and was not a prostitute, Crabtree mentioned her two children, which she interpreted as a threat that she could be jailed and lose her children, the memo says. Judge Clark said she then went along with Crabtree “out of fear.”
Crabtree kissed and groped her, took off her shirt, asked her to take off more clothing, and masturbated, ejaculating on the floor in front of her.
A week later, Crabtree asked the victim to meet him behind a Dollar General, where he kissed her and had her sit on her lap. He then asked her to meet him at a bed and breakfast and did it again. At a restaurant, he kissed and groped her, asked her to send him nude pictures so he could masturbate in his office, and asked if she would get a room with him, Judge Clark said.
In court, the victim said, “Honestly, this has taken everything from me,” adding that she’d lost her home and her two young children due to the Crabtree’s crimes. She also said Crabtree had stalked her and shown up at her workplace.
In a written statement, she said, “When I showed up to the courthouse and his office, I trusted him. Instead of an officer of the court and a true prosecutor, I found out that I encountered a monster and a person not deserving of the titles and office bestowed upon him. He horribly abused my trust in him. He violated me. He sexually assaulted me.”
“In the moments leading up to it and after the assaults, he preyed upon my vulnerabilities and weaknesses,” she continued. “He then continued to use those vulnerabilities and weaknesses to exercise his control over me and manipulate me. He threatened to interfere in my other legal matters and talked about how powerful he was and how he knew the attorneys or judges involved and could easily contact them. To this date, I still do not know whether he contacted them or how many.”
Under questioning by FBI agents about the incident on March 3, 2022, Crabtree repeatedly lied when he denied kissing and touching the victim, telling her to undress and masturbating in his office.
“James Crabtree is even worse than other sexual predators because he used his official authority to abuse a victim, which makes his sexual assault a civil rights violation,” said Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg of the FBI St. Louis Division. “The FBI prioritizes investigating any government employee who misuses his or her official position.”
Crabtree, 40, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis in August to a misdemeanor charge of deprivation of rights under color of law, namely the woman’s right to bodily integrity, and a felony charge of making false statements to the FBI. The guidelines for the crimes recommended by the U.S. Sentencing Commission were 12 to 18 months in prison.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith is prosecuting the case.