Navy Cop, an Officer in Norfolk, Is Arrested on Sex Trafficking Charges

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U.S. Fleet Forces Command seal
U.S. Fleet Forces Command seal. (Dept. of Defense photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

Local and service officials confirmed that a Navy officer was arrested last week in Virginia on felony commercial sex trafficking charges.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Cranston Jr., 45, was arrested Nov. 18 on a single count of commercial sex trafficking at a Norfolk base, a statement from Henrico Police said. Court records show that the alleged offense occurred Nov. 8.

The statement added that the arrest is part of an ongoing investigation that began "in early November" and is being led by the department's vice squad, with help from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Specifics about exactly what Cranston is accused of doing are scant. Police said that "details remain limited," citing a need to "conduct a thorough investigation." However, the statement noted that they regularly investigate "internet crimes to deter and identify victims of human trafficking."

A Navy spokeswoman confirmed that the service is aware of the arrest. The statement, provided by Lt. Cmdr. Madisyn Hansen, said, "The Navy takes this matter seriously and is fully cooperating with law enforcement."

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Cranston has been in the Navy since enlisting in 1994, according to information released by the service. He was commissioned in 2006 as a security officer and has served at the Bureau of Naval Personnel, as well as on the Navy's newest aircraft carrier -- the Gerald Ford.

A LinkedIn profile that appears to belong to Cranston notes that he was the community manager for the Navy's Master at Arms specialty while at the Bureau of Naval Personnel. According to a Navy website, this means he would have been "responsible for 'cradle-to-grave' monitoring and management of the health and welfare" of the service's enlisted cop community.

Cranston has been assigned to U.S. Fleet Forces Command since April.

Hansen said that the Navy is "not aware of any previous complaints of misconduct by Lt. Cmdr. Cranston."

Cranston is currently being held without bail in Henrico County, with his first court appearance slated for Dec. 10.

Michael Feinmel with the Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office said that they were "unaware of whether an attorney has been retained." Feinmel added that jailed defendants usually file a motion to be released on bond before the first court date -- something that has not happened in this case.

Cranston's arrest comes as the Navy still grapples with the fallout of a previous sex trafficking scandal that ensnared at least nine sailors -- including one officer and five chiefs. The group is alleged to have brought Thai prostitutes into Bahrain, where the sailors were stationed, and housed them in off-base housing with the goal of taking a cut of their earnings.

A Government Accountability Office report released in August found that most Army and Navy contracting officers were not aware of their oversight responsibilities when it comes to human trafficking.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

Related: Navy Officer Who Lived with Prostitutes in Bahrain Has Sentence Partly Overturned by Appeals Court

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