Craig man suspected of sexually assaulting two juveniles | CraigDailyPress.com
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Craig man suspected of sexually assaulting two juveniles

Patrick Kelly

A Craig man faces nine charges related to the alleged sexual assault of two girls under the age of 10, one of whom was his stepdaughter, after an investigation by Craig Police Department.

Michael Anthony Cantrell, 30, was accused of sexually assaulting his seven-year-old stepdaughter and her eight-year-old friend by the district attorney’s office on Monday.

According to the arrest affidavit, a digital storage device containing pictures of Cantrell allegedly engaged in sexual acts with the two victims lead Craig police to the arrest on Sept. 1.

On Aug. 29, Sgt. Brian Soper responded to The Memorial Hospital after dispatch received a report of child abuse.

At the hospital, Soper interviewed the mother of the alleged eight-year-old victim and the alleged victim herself.

The mother said Cantrell had been watching her two children while she worked from 4 to 10 p.m. in the evenings and her eight-year-old daughter was invited for sleepover with Cantrell’s stepdaughter on Aug. 24.

After the sleepover, the girl told her grandfather that the she had “gotten stoned by the babysitter,” the affidavit states.

The alleged victim reportedly told her grandfather that Cantrell had given her a “shotgun,” which is a method of inhaling marijuana smoke that involves blowing smoke from one person’s mouth into another’s.

“(Cantrell) had kissed her on the mouth and blown marijuana smoke into her mouth,” the victim told officers, according to the affidavit.

She also said that Cantrell had taken pictures of the two girls in the bathtub, the affidavit states.

Officers proceeded to question Cantrell at his residence that same day. Cantrell denied giving the kids any marijuana, but told officers the children had allegedly gotten into his personal stash and were put in time-out for doing so.

He also denied taking any pictures and his wife showed the officers that no inappropriate pictures were stored on Cantrell’s phone.

Two days later, two citizens discovered a digital storage device near City Park. When they viewed the device’s contents in an attempt to return it to the owner, what appeared to be child pornography was discovered and they turned the device over to police.

Police investigators reviewed the device and “discovered numerous images of child pornography,” according to the affidavit.

Using a body camera recording from a May 21 welfare check at Cantrell’s residence, officers were able to confirm that the pictures had been taken in his home.

The affidavit states the two females identified in the pictures were Cantrell’s seven-year-old stepdaughter and her eight-year-old friend.

Police served a search warrant at Cantrell’s residence on Sept. 1 and Investigator Travis Young was able to speak with Cantrell at length about the suspected sexual assaults.

According to the affidavit, Cantrell denied sexually abusing the two alleged victims until Young told him that police were in possession of pictures showing sexual contact.

“(Cantrell) said it was ‘couple time thing’ and he got really stupid,” the affidavit states. “(Cantrell) said he knew this was a big thing and he was ashamed.”

Young reports that Cantrell provided a detailed history of alleged sexual assault he and his sisters suffered as juveniles and said he didn’t really remember what he did to the two alleged victims because he was high on methamphetamines.

“(Cantrell) said it was to justify what his family did to him,” according to the affidavit.

Cantrell was placed under arrest and subsequently transported to TMH due to recent drug use and being suicidal.

At the hospital, Young contacted Cantrell and read him his Miranda Rights before Cantrell retold what he had said earlier in greater detail.

Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Brett Barkey has accused Cantrell of two counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, aggravated incest and five counts of sexual exploitation of children.

Police Chief Walt Vanatta said there were 37 investigations into sex crimes in 2015, one of which involved a 14-year-old female and 36-year-old male.

“Unfortunately we have far more than we would care to ever have to investigate,” he said.

Vanatta said his department is seeing more of these cases and many of them begin over the internet on social media sites.

“It’s very disturbing,” he said, emphasizing that parents should monitor their child’s online activity.

Resources for internet safety and other related topics can be found at http://www.craigpolice.com/programs/youthdre.

Victims of sex crimes, especially juveniles, have their identities protected by state law.

“Statutorily we cannot release the names of any sexual assault victims,” Vanatta said.

According to the state sex offender registry, there are 24 individuals who have been convicted of sex crimes in the Craig area.

Cantrell is still being held in Moffat County Jail on $100,000 bond.

Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.


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