An undercover FBI agent testified that a former Glendale police officer sent a picture of his genitalia over the Internet to a federal agent posing as a 13-year-old girl. The agent said that a message from Arthur Crabtree that came with the picture offered an invitation to a spa and “letting his hand wander under the bubbles.”
During a preliminary hearing in a Van Nuys Superior Court, Judge Alice C. Hill ruled that Crabtree, 43, should stand trial for one felony count of attempted lewd acts on a child, three felony counts of attempting to send harmful matter over the Internet, four misdemeanor counts of attempted child molestation and one misdemeanor count of child molestation.
Crabtree, who remains free on $100,000 bail, is scheduled to return to court Feb. 8 for arraignment.
Crabtree was arrested Jan. 19, 2005, after allegedly corresponding with law enforcement agents whom he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. Police arrested him at the Greyhound bus depot in downtown Los Angeles as he was waiting to pick up the “girl.” Authorities say he sent her $20 and a bus ticket.
Crabtree has pleaded innocent to all the charges. If he is convicted on all counts, Crabtree, who is now retired as a police officer but worked as a real estate agent and remains a practicing family law attorney, could face up to 10 years in prison.
Crabtree and his attorney, Patrick E. Clancy, could not be reached for comment. Deputy District Attorney Tannaz Mokayef did not return calls for this story.
Crabtree’s arrest was part of an undercover sting operation conducted by a task force targeting Internet predators that prey on teenagers via the Internet. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is one of the local agencies participating with federal authorities on the task force.
Mike Sullivan, an Internet predator expert with the Naparville, Ill., police department who frequently works with the US Justice Department on cracking Internet sex crimes, said it is not unusual for a sexual predator to send a potential victim a bus ticket.
“The Internet makes it possible for predators from anywhere in the world to victimize children anywhere in the world,” Sullivan said. “The ability to move about is greatly enhanced.”
This isn’t the first time Crabtree, who was a 15-year veteran of the Glendale Police Department, has been involved in a sexual scandal.
In 2003, Crabtree and several other Glendale officers were named in the infamous Shaved Monkeys case which cost the city of Glendale a $4 million jury award. The officers were accused of sexual harassment and retaliation against several female officers.
Jamie Franke, one of the officers who claimed she was sexually harassed, testified that Crabtree blackmailed a woman who had attempted suicide into having sex with him. Franke testified that Crabtree told the woman that she would be locked up if she did not comply.
Sgt. Darryl York, who like Crabtree is an attorney and once shared offices with Crabtree, ran a pornographic Web site called Shavedmonkey.com out of the Police Department’s watch commander’s office. The site, which has long since been taken down, featured photos of shaved female genitalia.
An archived advertisement for the site from 1999 promised that “Shavedmonkey.com will stop at nothing short of going to prison to bring his viewers the most beautiful & exotic monkeys. Our expedition team is sent DEEP into the BUSH to capture & tame the wild monkeys. Every month we will bring you new and exciting monkeys. These expeditions are not cheap. We need your support to bring you the most exotic monkeys.”
York, who wrote and produced other material for the site, later admitted to 24 departmental violations in relation to the site and received a 12-day suspension from former Chief Russ Siverling. Siverling, who headed the Alhambra Police Department before taking over Glendale, has since been replaced by Chief Randy Adams, and York has been promoted to head the department’s internal affairs division.
“You will only see these girls grooming their lil’ monkeys here & only here!!!” the archived ad goes on. “You won’t see these girls grooming themselves anywhere else. Do you know why? Because we shoot all of our own models from complete amateurs to adult stars. We do not purchase content like most other sites. We create it!”
Attorney Brad Gage, who represented the plaintiffs, said that some of Crabtree’s alleged crimes against children could have been avoided if Glendale city and police officials had responded properly to the complaints of the three women officers.
“Rather,” Gage said, “the city focused on and retaliated against other people. The department would have been cleaned up then and some of this probably could have been avoided.”
Nevertheless, “I feel bad for him and his wife, who is a Glendale police officer,” Gage said. Crabtree is married to Glendale Police Sgt. Sue Hodgman. The couple has three sons.
During last week’s hearing in Van Nuys, Clancy claimed in court that Crabtree had never asked for sex during the chats with undercover agents. One agent who chatted with Crabtree online while posing as a child said he was never able to set up a meeting with Crabtree because he could not get a definite response if the purpose of the meeting was to have sex.
“He was standing around waiting for this girl,” said LA DA’s Office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons. “He was waiting.”