A Sedalia man was sentenced Thursday in Pettis County Circuit Court for molesting a young child last year.
According to information from Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney Phillip Sawyer, Leo Allen Cranford, 41, of the 200 block of North Harding Avenue, entered guilty pleas to first degree statutory sodomy and first degree child molestation June 20, just three days before his scheduled trial. He originally entered a not guilty plea during a Sept. 21, 2015, arraignment.
On Thursday during a sentencing hearing with Judge Robert Koffman, Cranford was sentenced to 30 years in the Department of Corrections for statutory sodomy. He was sentenced to 30 years for child molestation of a child less than 12 years old as a prior offender. According to Sawyer, pursuant to statute, due to the age of the child and the prior offense Cranford will serve the second sentence without parole eligibility. The sentences are to be served concurrently.
On July 29, 2015, a mother and father reported to the Sedalia Police Department that the father’s cousin had allegedly molested their 2-year-old daughter while she was in his care. According to court documents, the mother stated they left the child with Cranford while they went to town.
Upon returning, they noticed Cranford was not in his room, and found the man in the young girl’s room. The father said when he entered the room he observed both Cranford with his pants down and his daughter’s diaper removed.
Cranford turned himself in to the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office, where he was then questioned about the incident. He confessed to inappropriately touching the child while she was left in his care. He said once the couple came home, “he realized what he was doing was wrong and told (the father) that he was going to turn himself in.”
According to the court documents, Cranford is a registered sex offender and has previous convictions for similar offenses.