20 Year Sentence for Man who Abandoned Baby at Lolo Hot Springs
32 year-old Francis Crowley was sentenced in Missoula District Court on Tuesday to 30 years in the Montana State Prison with 10 years suspended after abandoning his infant nephew in the wilderness near the Lolo Hot Springs Resort on July 7, 2018.
Crowley, who many times during the emotional testimony of the two law enforcement officers who searched for and miraculously found ‘baby Grayson’, bowed with his head on the defense table and wept, and at one point said ‘thank you for finding Grayson.’
In her opening statement to Judge Karen Townsend, Deputy Missoula County Attorney Brittney Williams asked that the fact that the baby was miraculously found not sway her judgment in sentencing Crowley.
“In this matter the State will be requesting that the court not grant Mr. Crowley a windfall for the diligent work of law enforcement,” said Williams. “Had it not been for the valiant effort of the many law enforcement officers involved in this case, we would have a very different outcome. The State is requesting that the court follow the recommendation of the plea agreement for 30 years in the Montana State Prison with ten of those years suspended.”
One of the men who searched for baby Grayson, and who eventually found the child buried under a pile of sticks, Missoula County Sheriff’s Deputy Ross Jessop, addressed Crowley directly during his testimony at the sentencing hearing.
“Francis, I want to tell you,” said Jessop in a stern tone, “When I was stepping over that pile of debris with my size nine and a half boot, we didn’t know where Grayson was. My right foot was about to crush Grayson’s skull into the mud even further. He was face down in a soiled onesie, cold and completely out of breath, with twigs in his throat and twigs in his mouth. I picked him up, kissed him on the forehead and I thank Jesus for helping us. How could you do that to that child?”
Judge Townsend allowed Crowley to address the court before sentencing. He spoke of his many years of incarceration and drug abuse, and that he has three of his own children that he has never known due to his criminal history.
“I want help,” he cried out. “I’m begging in front of the world for help. I’ve never been humbled like this before. I want to show my little nephew that I love that kid. He changed my life. I have to look my sister in the eye one of these days and ask her for forgiveness. I have to tell my little nieces that I almost killed their little brother.”
Judge Townsend sentenced Crowley to 10 years in the Montana State Prison for felony criminal endangerment and 10 years for felony assault on a minor to run concurrently. In addition she sentenced him to 10 years in prison for child criminal endangerment, but suspended that 10 year term.