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A Sheriff Speaks

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Last week, news broke about Seminole County Sheriff Joe Craig allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct with a teenage girl and giving her alcohol.  But while most suspects accused of wrongdoing would have avoided the press like the plague, Craig took the unusual step of speaking to me directly about the allegations.

Photographer Mark Mcbride and I were sent to Seminole to cover the story, which by now, had been picked up by at least two news outlets. The timing of the allegations was dicey; it came one day after Craig won re-election to a third term by 65 percent of the vote.

We stopped at the Sheriff's Office where we were told that he was not in. His staff was not forthcoming about when he would return. The District Attorney for the area was in another county and his associate was in court for most of the afternoon. Both were unavailable for comment.

Mcbride found the sheriff's home number, which we dialed. Craig's wife answered the phone and put me on with the sheriff, who told me he would gladly speak to us on the record and yes, on camera.

We raced to the scene, hoping to get there before he changed his mind on the advice of his attorney. Would he still be willing to talk?  But upon arriving, Craig greeted us at the door and proceeded to give us his only interview on the issue.

Interestingly enough, Craig was the one who called OSBI and asked for an investigation. Having covered crime for several years (three in Oklahoma City), I can tell you it's extremely rare for a suspect to request an investigation on criminal charges.

Is Craig innocent? I don't know. That's up to investigators to decide.  But I have to say it was refreshing for a man accused of a crime to speak directly and honestly about the allegations without hiding behind an attorney or the typical "We can't comment on an on-going investigation" response.

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