Local Naval officer pleads guilty to sex trafficking charge in Henrico County

Charles Cranston Jr.
Posted at 11:57 AM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 17:59:48-04

HENRICO Co., Va. – Wednesday, a Hampton Roads-based Naval officer pleaded guilty to sex trafficking with intent to receive money.

Authorities arrested Lt. Cmdr. Charles Cranston Jr. last November at a Norfolk base and charged him with commercial sex trafficking. At the time of his arrest, Navy officials told News 3 that Cranston, 47, was assigned to U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

News 3 has reached out to the Navy for a statement following Cranston’s guilty plea. Here's what they said:

“The Navy takes this matter seriously and is fully cooperating with law enforcement. Please address any additional questions to the Henrico Police Department.”
U.S. Fleet Forces Command

The Henrico County Police Division’s VICE Unit was leading the investigation, which began in early November 2021. Detectives assigned to the case were working alongside the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

In Wednesday's hearing, prosecutors said it all started on November 2, 2021, when Henrico County Police's VICE team posted an ad targeting potential sex trafficking.

A detective got a response from Cranston after the ad was posted.

Prosecutors went on to say there were texts from Cranston, using an alias of “Tony,” agreeing to split the costs of a hotel room with the prostitute, discussing what would take place.

Cranston, according to prosecutors, also told the undercover detective posing as a prostitute he had a studio and OnlyFans website to help make money.

Prosecutors added that Cranston, in a phone call, expressed wanting to help further the prostitute career, and eventually posted an ad on behalf of the prostitute which got more than a dozen responses.

Prosecutors said during the hearing Cranston was arrested with the help of Chesapeake Police and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS)

Following Wednesday's hearing, News 3 reached out to both the prosecutor and Cranston's defense attorney. Both didn't provide any further comment on the case.

According to court documents obtained by News 3, Cranston has been with the Navy for 27 years and has lived in Virginia since September 2019.

More specifically, he's been in Chesapeake since April 2020 with his spouse and two juvenile children.

Cranston is due back in court for sentencing in June. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Related: Local Naval officer arrested on sex trafficking charges in Henrico County