|William Stephen Crossen|
By Adam Cook
Two weeks after being handed a seven-year sentence for child sex crimes, a former Catoosa County Sheriff’s deputy was given a second sentencing hearing on Wednesday, July 10, which resulted in a lighter five-year sentence.
Thirty-nine-year-old William Stephen Crossen, who was initially sentenced to seven years — five to be served in prison without the possibility of parole by Catoosa County Superior Court judge Ralph Van Pelt Jr. — will now served five years total, with two years to be served behind bars.
In March, Crossen pleaded guilty to 14 child sex charges involving a teenage girl. The charges included sexual exploitation of a child, dissemination of computer pornography, interference with custody, and sodomy.
The crimes took place in early 2012.
According to Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit district attorney Herbert E. “Buzz” Franklin and defense attorney McCracken Poston, the change in the sentence stemmed from a wrong interpretation of the code provision involving the sentencing guidelines.
“There was a misinterpretation of the sentencing guidelines, and we would have appealed the matter, but judge (Ralph) Van Pelt spoke to judge Bo Wood regarding the statue and ultimately issued a new sentence,” Poston said. “The judge used his discretion in the case and was pro-active.”
The error in the sentencing guidelines simply wasn’t addressed during the first hearing.
“It was just a misinterpretation of the mandatory code provisions for those specific charges,” Franklin said. “Mr. Crossen is still going to serve his time in jail, and him pleading guilty will spare the victim and her family of dealing with a trial.”
Following the hearing on June 27, Crossen was taken into custody to begin serving jail time.
“We’re obviously pleased with a shorter sentence,” Poston said. “It costs more money to house and segregate him due to the fact that he is a former cop. He (Crossen) has showed remorse for his dreadful mistake, and he has a great support system around him… It’s one thing to punish someone, but you (should not) over-punish.”
- I can understand why we segregate police officers for their own safety, but it's ironic that they don't segregate other offenders who are just as likely to be harmed in jail / prison, so why give police special protection?
Crossen was fired from the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office in February 2012 following a Georgia Bureau of Investigation into allegations that he was involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl.
The crimes took place over a 10-day span in February 2012, which included Crossen picking up the teen, enticing her into a sexual encounter in a parking lot, taking photos of her, and distributing the photos, authorities said.
Crossen turned himself in to authorities in November 2012 following a grand jury indictment in the case. He pleaded guilty to the charges on March 7.
“He feels terrible and feels as though he has let everyone down,” Poston said. “If his wife can forgive him, then the community ought to as well.”