craft

FORNEY, Texas — A Talty man who targeted underage girls on Snapchat has been sentenced to 35 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) after pleading guilty to charges for continuous trafficking of persons and possession of child pornography.

26-year-old Taylor Craft, in a plea agreement with the Kaufman County District Attorney's Office, pleaded guilty to the charges yesterday before 86th District Court Judge Casey Blair.

Craft was initially arrested in March 2019 after an approximate-three month investigation which originated in Rock Hill, Connecticut. There, 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.

Upon his initial arrest, Craft 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 Kaufman County, investigators identified at least 11 victims, a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation tells inForney.com.

Based on the volume of photographs and videos discovered in Craft's possession during the execution of a search warrant, investigators, at the time, believed there were numerous other victims who had yet to be identified.

In accordance with his plea agreement, Craft was sentenced to 35 years in TDCJ for the continuous trafficking of persons charge and 10 years in TDCJ for possession of child pornography. The sentences are to be served concurrently, according to plea agreement and judgement documents obtained by inForney.com. Craft is also required to register as a sex offender for life.

Assistant Criminal District Attorneys Heather Ragsdale, Jennifer Ponder, and Trial Chief Marc Moffitt led the prosecution and District Attorney Investigator Daniel Hargrove assisted, according to a press release from the Kaufman County District Attorney's Office earlier today.

"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 the release.