RAYMOND — A 20-year-old man who alleges a Raymond
youth pastor molested him when he was 14 has told authorities
that the church member often came to his house to punish him
with a wooden cutting board and paddle, a police affidavit
In an interview with Raymond police Tuesday, the alleged
victim said that during his early teens, he and his mother
were “having trouble getting along” and that Michael L.
Cranford frequently visited his home to discipline him.
“The punishment often included Michael spanking (the
teenager) with a wooded cutting board, then a rowing paddle,”
the affidavit said.
The Raymond man told police that he was first introduced to
Cranford when he was in his early teens. At that time,
Cranford was a member of the New Life Assembly of God church,
where the boy’s mother worshipped.
The 37-year-old Cranford, a convicted sex offender, was
charged by Raymond police Thursday with one misdemeanor count
of sexual assault for allegedly molesting the then-14-year-old
boy between January 1995 and December 1996. The charge came
two days after Candia police charged Cranford with sexually
assaulting another boy, also 14, at the time, sometime between
September 1996 and June 1997.
The two alleged victims, who police said are related,
reported the assaults to Raymond and Candia authorities within
the last two weeks. Cranford, formerly of Candia, has admitted
that he assaulted the teenager in the Candia case, a police
Cranford was arraigned yesterday on the Raymond charge in
Auburn District Court. He remains held at the Rockingham
County jail in lieu of $100,000 cash bail.
While he attended the church when the alleged assaults
occurred, Cranford did not become a part-time youth pastor
until 1998, the church’s senior pastor, Kenneth Bosse, said
yesterday. Cranford was hired as a full-time youth pastor in
During an interview with Raymond Sgt. Shawn J. Coope, the
alleged victim in the Raymond case said he was assaulted when
Cranford was called to his house after he and his mother had a
fight, an affidavit said. After Cranford arrived, the boy’s
mother left the home and he locked himself in his bedroom, he
According to the affidavit, Cranford eventually forced his
way into the bedroom and pushed the boy onto the bed. Cranford
then allegedly got on top of the boy, pinned him down, and
performed a sexual act, the affidavit said.
After the incident, the alleged victim told police that he
ran from the house and hid in a barn until Cranford left.
According to police, the investigation into Cranford began
when the alleged Raymond victim told Raymond School Resource
Officer James Tomilson on Jan. 15 that he had been sexually
assaulted as a child. The report was made five days after the
alleged victim in the Candia case, who is now 19, called
police to report that Cranford had molested him.
In a police interview Jan. 22, Cranford told investigators
that he was “put in charge of disciplining” the Raymond
teenager by his mother. Cranford acknowledged that the
punishment included spanking the boy with a paddle, police
said. While Cranford denied he had any sexual contact with the
boy, he admitted to police that he used a paddle to spank the
boy on several occasions while the boy’s mother was not home.
During that same police interview, Cranford admitted to
having sexual contact on several occasions with the alleged
victim in the Candia case, a police affidavit said.
Cranford is a convicted sex offender and has been
registered with the Candia Police Department since moving to
Candia in 1993, police said. In 1991, he was convicted of
sexually assaulting a child while serving as an associate
pastor at a church in Groton, Mass., police said.
Cranford was also a Candia firefighter and the chaplain for
the fire department, but resigned Jan. 20.
Despite being a registered sex offender, Cranford was hired
as an associate youth pastor and the music minister at the New
Life Assembly of God church. The church dismissed him after
the recent charges.
Cranford told a judge at his arraignment on the Candia
charges that he planned to move to Texas to enroll in a
program to help him deal with his “problems.”
Bosse, the church’s pastor, called Cranford’s alleged
behavior “unacceptable in church and society.”
“We here at New Life Assembly are devastated by the recent
events. Everyone here at the church had been really fond of
Michael Cranford. Now everyone is in a state of shock. . . .
Our hearts go out to the victims and their families,” Bosse
said in a statement. “Our prayers are that they will be able
to move on from here and receive the healing that they will
need to have fine lives. The church continues to offer the
victims any support that they need.”