Manassas Journal Messenger | Parents sentence for child abuse

Manassas parents of four whose children were discovered at school limping from frostbite were sentenced to a year each in prison.

Leon Perrie Crawford, 36, and Kimberly Catron Crawford, 31, each pleaded guilty to felony child abuse and reckless endangerment in June.

In addition to the jail time, each received an additional 14 suspended years, on condition of 15 years of probation. The Crawfords were also court-ordered not to contact their children, ages 13, 11, 8 and 1. The sentencing exceeds Virginia’s guidelines by six months.

The Crawford children’s plight was noticed by school officials when the 11-year-old son was noticed by school staff to be limping at Grace E. Metz Middle School in December 2002. The boy and his 13-year-old sister were found to be suffering from frostbite.

It was not the first time the school had reported the Crawfords. Court records indicate 28 earlier complaints to the Manassas Department of Social Services. School reports noticed evidence of physical abuse, inadequate clothing and food and poor hygiene.

The boy told the school nurse his black toe was due to a broken window in his bedroom and no heat in the house. Police photos of the 9005 Bonham Circle home show almost no furniture. The parents’ room was also the only room with a bed, though several new children’s mattresses were discovered in the back yard, covered with snow. The children slept on the wood floor, according to police criminal complaints.

At a June hearing, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Sandra R. Sylvester described “food hoarding in the parents’ room.” Police photos of the home show no food in the kitchen cupboards or fridge, but a stocked closet in the parents’ room.

Court records indicate Kimberly Crawford at one point told police that there was little furniture in the home because their religion doesn’t allow unnecessary furniture. There were numerous religious epithets scrawled on the walls in the home. Kimberly Crawford also told police that she woke her children every morning at 4 a.m. to serve the Lord.

The Crawfords have permanently terminated their parental rights, Sylvester said Thursday.

The Crawfords previously lost their children to Fairfax Department of Social Services foster care for three years before moving to Manassas.

Staff writer Maria Hegstad can be reached at (703) 369-6594.

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