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Florida attorney flees with child ordered to be turned over to DCF

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Deputies in Panama City, Florida were forced to arrest an attorney who fled a courtroom with a child he was representing.
The incident occurred on May 6th at the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center.
Officials say Attorney Billy Joe “Hoot” Crawford brought the child to the agency in regards to a child sexual abuse investigation:
“Crawford brought the child to the CAC indicating he was there representing her. Crawford made unreasonable demands contrary to the standard protocols of child sexual abuse investigations,” the Bay County Sheriff’s Office said.
Authorities said at one point, the child’s parents “stopped cooperating with the investigation and tried to leave.”
The Department of Children and Families decided it was in the best interest of the child for them to be taken into their custody.
A DCF officer then put the child in her car, but Crawford got into the vehicle and demanded the child.
He then put the child into his vehicle and drove away.
As Crawford fled with the child, authorities said he “backed into” one of the investigators in the case, causing injuries.
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office was able to track down Crawford and brought him into custody:
“Investigators were able to conduct a traffic stop on Crawford in the 1000 block of Harrison Ave. Crawford locked his doors and refused to open them or let the child out. After approximately 1 hour Crawford let the girl out and surrendered himself,” the sheriff’s office said.
Crawford is now charged with interference with child custody, willful and wanton reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident with bodily injury.