11 new charges filed against Gainesville church founder accused of child abuse

The 54-year-old was arrested after leaving marks with a belt on a child that can still be seen months later
The founder of a church in Gainesville was charged by the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office with aggravated child abuse
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 1:33 PM EDT|Updated: May. 24, 2023 at 4:09 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The founder of a church in Gainesville faces 11 additional charges after being arrested by the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office for aggravated child abuse on Tuesday.

According to the sheriff’s office, Lorenzo L. Crawford, 54, has been additionally charged with 11 counts of sexual battery and one count of aggravated battery

He was initially arrested after an investigation was launched into reports of sexual abuse of a child at Christian Coalition Family Church.

ASO sent in the SWAT team to serve the warrant on Tuesday because they say it was “high risk.”

“There’s a number of buildings on the property and a lot of property,” said ASO’s public information officer, Art Forgey. “So we had several detectives there and forensics folks to search the property and look for the things to correlate with what we knew.”

Deputies say a child told a family member about another child confided in them about being sexually abused by another member of the church. The family member told Crawford about the incident.

“There are multiple victims in the case so far,” said Forgey. “The charges range from sexual battery to child abuse, and some victims both. It’s a very extensive investigation and we feel that there may be additional victims that will come forward once they see this.”

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Crawford brought the child to his office and scolded the child. He then made the child pull down their pants and hit the child with a belt. The beating caused significant bleeding and left markings still visible four months later.

Deputies say they are investigating other “serious allegations against Crawford.”

“It’s sickening,” said Forgey. “I wouldn’t say that you could call this person a church leader when he’s doing the things that he is doing. That is nowhere to be found in the Bible or any other religion. I think to run under the guise of this being a religion is the first strike in this puzzle.”

He is already facing multiple charges in at least four other cases, including sexual and aggravated battery.

Crawford’s record goes back to a criminal traffic charge in 1991.

He has been charged with four felonies since then, on counts ranging from burglary to battery.

Among his domestic relations charges are two requests for restraining orders.

Most of the charges over the years were dropped for various reasons.

In a Facebook post, the department shared Sheriff Clovis Watson’s reaction to the case. It states, “Sheriff Watson stated that in his over 20 years of law enforcement, Crawford is one of the most heinous and vial human beings he has ever seen, as the acts he committed not only created physical and emotional scars for the victims, but it also created a spiritual void and an immense amount of doubt in people who believed in the church.”

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