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Sebring woman pleads not guilty to 12 charges

SEBRING — A Sebring woman charged with 12 misdemeanors after police found deplorable conditions in the home where she was living — with five animals and her daughter pleaded not guilty Thursday to all counts.

Ashley Crawford, 42, of East Ohio Avenue, has been in the Mahoning County jail since Sunday. Her bond was set at $5,000 by Mahoning County Area Court Judge Joseph Schiavoni.

Sebring Prosecutor Gary Van Brocklin said he had hoped the bond would have been set higher, because Crawford has a pattern of disappearing for many days. Crawford’s 16-year-old daughter told police that she had been left alone for weeks at a time. The only way she ate was with an EBT card provided by her school, authorities were told.

Crawford is charged with child endangerment, building in unsafe conditions, five counts of prohibitions concerning companion animals and five counts of cruelty to animals. Van Brocklin said Crawford has substance abuse issues, but her charges are misdemeanors because she has no prior offenses relating to child or animal abuse.

At Crawford’s arraignment, she was declared indigent, so a lawyer will be appointed for her pre-trial hearing, set for 9:30 a.m. Aug. 25 at Mahoning County Area Court 3 in Sebring. She waived her right to a speedy trial on Thursday.

She does face an additional felony charge for prohibitions concerning animals, but she did not plea Thursday. She will also next appear for this charge Aug. 25.

Concerned relatives from out-of-state requested police perform a welfare check on Crawford and her daughter, which they did on Aug. 3.

When police arrived, they found a house in complete disrepair, with urine and feces covering the floors and beverage cans littered throughout. The only room that was clean was the daughter’s.

Pictures provided by Sebring police show trash and miscellaneous items piled up throughout the house. Dirt covered the floors and paint was severely chipping on the walls. One could not take a step in the living room without having to step over or around trash, feces or furniture. Van Brocklin said the house has been condemned and he does not believe it could be cleaned to take the odor out and make it habitable again.

“The odor hits you when you are five feet from the front steps,” he said.

A police report notes that an older daughter of Crawford’s told police she last visited the house in November 2021 and noticed trash and feces was starting to pile up.

The 16-year-old, meanwhile, is now in custody of her aunt and uncle — the family members who requested the welfare check.

Also in the house were five animals: two dogs and three cats. One of the cats was found dead in the basement. The other four animals have since been taken in by animal shelters to be medically treated.

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