Guest Blog: Please Don’t Vote Graven Craig in the 56th
Readers: We’re pleased to bring you our first guest blog on O’Hanrahan is Right. Please read and use the information provided to help decide your vote in the June 13th primary. – O’Hanrahan
By: E. Frederick Salem, Goochland County
June 7, 2017
Please don’t vote for Graven Craig in the upcoming Republican primary to be the nominee for the open seat in 56th District House of Delegates (HOD). Why do I feel so strongly about this? First, the facts:
Graven Craig is a Louisa County-based attorney who frequently defends criminal suspects in matters ranging from DUI to rape and much more. Criminal defense is an integral part of our justice system, but what’s troubling to me and many in the District is that Mr. Craig fails to mention this in his bid for the nomination. He and his supporters use terms like “defender of the Constitution”, but what is really at the heart of his position is his stalwart, and even successful defense of perpetrators of some of the most heinous crimes against our most helpless victims: children. Here are examples of charged (and some convicted) pedophiles that Mr. Craig has gladly defended:
2003: Frank David Miller, Louisa County. Mr. Miller was initially arrested during an online undercover operation by police in North Carolina. The authorities in North Carolina were not interested in prosecuting Miller to the fullest extent of the law and since he was a Louisa County resident, he was prosecuted in Louisa by the Virginia Office of the Attorney General. Mr. Miller was defended by Graven Craig and eventually convicted of multiple counts of soliciting a minor under 18 years old for sex and additional counts of possessing sexually explicit material of a minor.
2011: Charles Hopkins, Louisa County. Mr. Hopkins was Charged with one count of use of a communication system to solicit sex from a minor (a real-life victim). Mr. Craig defended Hopkins and during a motion hearing, convinced the judge to dismiss the charge mid-trial on a legal technicality. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Hopkins was a volunteer rescue squad member in the community and is still out in the community today.
2011: Joseph Bell, Louisa County. Mr. Bell was charged with multiple counts of possession of child pornography. During his interview with police, Bell also admitted to hands-on sexual assault of a toddler child of the married couple with whom he was living. Bell worked in Charlottesville for a government contractor and held a top-secret clearance at the time of his arrest. Craig defended him and Bell eventually pleaded guilty. He may be found on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry (also see below).
2016: John Dale Sprouse, Louisa County. Mr. Sprouse is charged with multiple hands-on sexual battery offenses against an 10-year old, non-verbal autistic (disabled) victim while transporting the child to/from a special needs school in Richmond (read more here: http://www.nbc12.com/story/32501193/court-documents-describe-abuse-by-louisa-schools-driver-on-student-with-autism ). Sprouse was employed as a driver for Louisa Co. Public Schools prior to this incident. Graven Craig has been his defense attorney since the charges were filed. Additionally, Craig was not at the Goochland County meeting Wednesday, May 24 because he was defending Sprouse in a hearing in Louisa Circuit Court related to these charges. That’s right, the case is still active and is currently set for trial after the primary.
All of this information is verifiable through publicly-available court records.
So why do I bring this to your attention? Somebody needs to. As a relative of one of the past victims that Graven Craig helped set free back into society, I can’t help but wonder how his experience in the courtroom will affect his ability to enact laws that protect our children in the General Assembly, should he be elected. Was the motivation for taking these cases all about money or was it to obtain some sort of justice for child sex predators? Either way, I personally can’t stomach someone with questionable motives attempting to get into a position as a law-maker in our district. Do I think Graven Craig is a bad person? Not at all. By all accounts, he’s a good conservative politically. But I do think he’s made decisions throughout his career that directly affect his ability to serve the public effectively… ALL of the public, including our most innocent, vulnerable and precious asset – our children.
As a side note, I’m personally dismayed at many of my local county elected representatives endorsing Mr. Craig. I can only hope they didn’t consider his track record defending child sex abusers before issuing their endorsements.
I write this not on behalf of any candidate running against Mr. Craig, but on behalf of all of the victims of child sex abuse in our community that have to face their accuser in court. They are the true heroes and an all-too-often overlooked casualty of a stalwart approach to the defense of child predators. After all, who else will speak for them?
Please consider your vote on June 13th carefully. Thank you.
E. Frederick Salem