ROCKWALL, Texas — A Talty man previously convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison for preying on young girls via Snapchat has additionally been sentenced 35 years in similar cases in Rockwall County, the Rockwall County District Attorney's Office announced Friday.
26-year-old Taylor Craft was initially arrested in March 2019 after a three-month investigation that originated in Rock Hill, Connecticut. At that time, he faced 23 charges in Kaufman, Rockwall, and Dallas Counties ranging from aggravated sexual assault of a child, aggravated kidnapping, possession of child pornography, online solicitation of a minor, sexual assault of a child, publishing or threatening to publish intimate visual material, online solicitation of a minor by sexual conduct, sexual performance by a child younger than 14 years, and possession with intent to promote child pornography.
In March 2021, Craft, in a plea agreement with the Kaufman County District Attorney's Office, pleaded guilty to continuous trafficking of persons and possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to 35 years and 10 years on the charges, respectively, which will be served concurrently.
On Friday, Rockwall County prosecutors announced similar sentencing for Craft — 35 years for sexual performance by a child under the age of 14; 20 years for possession of child pornography with intent to promote; and 20 years for online solicitation of a minor; to be served concurrently.
District Court judges in both counties order Craft be register as a sex offender for life.
In Rockwall County, prosecutors say of at least three victims identified, two were 8th grade students at the time Craft solicited them for sex. In Kaufman County, investigators identified at least 11 victims, a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation tells inForney.com.
“Every parent of a teenager should sit their child down and discuss the dangers of these communications," stated Rockwall County District Attorney Kenda Culpepper. "Those conversations are difficult, but please don’t wait until it’s too late. It is important that kids know how to react in these situations and know they can report them to a trusted adult or the police.”
“Taylor Craft weaponized technology to prey on children in Rockwall County,” stated Rockwall Assistant District Attorney Justin Almand. “Our thanks to Texas Ranger Bruce Sherman for connecting the digital bread crumbs and putting Taylor Craft in prison where predators belong.”
The digital bread crumbs
In Rock Hill, investigators say Craft had posed as a female on Snapchat to gain the trust of his victims — later requesting nude or partially clothed photographs of the victims. Craft then would ask the underage female victims if they would like to go on a date with their "best friend," who the fraudulent Snapchat account would identify as Taylor, according to arrest warrant affidavits obtained by inForney.com.
These requests were solicited despite the victims identifying themselves as under the age of 17; some identifying as freshman in high school; and one victim, identified as an 8th grade student, was solicited for sexual intercourse, according to the affidavits.
Back in north Texas, where Craft resided, investigators say he employed the same techniques to gain the trust of his underage female victims, in multiple counties, to arrange meet-ups. After agreeing to meet with Craft, he would threaten to expose any previously solicited nude photographs he had obtained if the victims refused his sexual advances, investigators, at the time, told inForney.com.
During the initial investigation, investigators believed there were numerous other victims who had yet to be identified due to the volume of photographs and videos discovered in Craft's possession during the execution of a search warrant.
Multi-agency cooperation in investigation and prosecution
“We have appreciated the great collaboration between our offices and regional law enforcement agencies to bring Taylor Craft to justice,” Culpepper stated of the cooperation between the Rockwall and Kaufman County District Attorney's Offices.
“We were able to strengthen all of our cases by working together," stated Kaufman County District Attorney Erleigh Wiley.
"We would like to recognize the Texas Rangers Bruce Sherman and Chad Matlock, Department of Public Safety Special Agent Maury Buford, Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jimmy Weisbruch, Mesquite Police Department Investigator Chris Quigley, Rocky Hill Police Department Detective Cherie Dery of Rocky Hill, Connecticut, and the Kaufman County Children’s Advocacy Center, and other state agencies that assisted with the prosecution of this case, and helped send a clear message that crimes against children are not tolerated in Kaufman County," read a press release from the Kaufman County District Attorney's Office upon his sentencing in Kaufman County.