Originally created 05/19/00

Man gets 20-year sentence



A former child psychologist was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison for sexually exploiting children in hundreds of photographs he snapped.

The evidence against Robert Bruce Craft, 57, was "overwhelming," said Superior Court Judge Carl C. Brown Jr., even after hearing sworn testimony from 14 witnesses and reading dozens of letters supporting Dr. Craft.

"I'm also required to take the seriousness of these offenses into account, and I cannot ignore that," Judge Brown said.

Dr. Craft was convicted in March by Judge Brown after waiving his right to a jury trial.

After serving his 20-year sentence on 99 felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, Dr. Craft will serve 20 years' probation on 15 felony counts of child molestation.

With credit for the 16 months he has spent behind bars awaiting his sentence, Dr. Craft will be eligible for parole in just over five years.

The sentence was shorter than prosecutors requested.

"In this case, there needs to be a sentence that says this isn't going to happen anymore, that this is going to stop, and that speaks to the weight of the evidence," Assistant District Attorney Nancy Johnson said.

"Twenty years isn't enough, Judge. If he served every day, it would not be enough. If he lives to be 107, like my great-grandmother, then I hope it's spent in there."

Ms. Johnson called Dr. Craft's crimes "deliberate" acts that stole children's innocence without their knowledge.

"Children were harmed even though they never even knew it," she said. "Children didn't know that they were being touched by this man's eyes.

"It seeps its way into things that we never would imagine, but in a child's mind, it has a long-range effect."

Testifying on his own behalf, the former psychologist reiterated the defense presented by his attorneys: That the photographs were innocent frames, taken out of context from more than 73,000 images that the amateur photographer had snapped during the years.

"There's a tapestry here, your honor," Dr. Craft said. "The tapestry has been destroyed. That's just not the way they were intended."

He also turned to address his supporters, who included former colleagues and some of his victims and their parents.

"You will never know how happy I am to see your faces and hear your voices," Dr. Craft said. "I have loved your children, and you. Maybe I've taken some pictures that were inappropriate, but taken in the entire context, they are part of life."

Dr. Craft's wife, Kay, said her husband would file a motion for a new trial immediately.

Reach Brandon Haddock at (706) 823-3409.