Stone Mountain, GA – A convicted sex offender who was released from prison early and removed from the sex offender registry due to good behavior was arrested on nine new child sex abuse offenses last week.
Derrick Crooms, 45, was arrested on Oct. 15 after a joint online exploitation and child molestation investigation conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Newton County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) and the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), the GBI said in a press release on Monday.
Crooms has been charged with two counts of child molestation, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, two counts of incest, two counts of aggravated child molestation, and one count of enticing a child for indecent purposes.
But his history of sexually abusing children stretches back much further than his most recent arrest.
Crooms was once a registered sex offender, but he was removed from the registry in 2017 after he convinced a judge he was reformed, WAGA reported.
That case stemmed from a slew of child molestation charges he pleaded guilty to back in 1996 involving his then-seven-year-old cousin by marriage, Jeanie Fulcher.
Fulcher, now 34, said Crooms sexually abused her for a year before she “had the courage to tell someone” about what was happening to her, WAGA reported.
“He took my innocence when I was seven,” Fulcher told the news outlet. “I don’t know if you can ever really heal from that.”
Crooms served just four years of his 20-year sentence before he was released from prison.
Despite Fulcher’s pleas against it, a judge in 2017 agreed to absolve him of having to register as a sex offender, WAGA reported.
“Their argument was that he was a changed man and he was a model citizen that didn’t get in trouble anymore, hasn’t committed crimes since,” she told the news outlet.
“I do think that our justice system has failed us,” Fulcher said. “I believe that once you plead guilty to raping children, molestation charges, you shouldn’t get out of prison at all. You shouldn’t get a second chance.”
Shedding the requirement to register as a sex offender left Crooms free to travel around the country with his wife, Rachel Overton, while she worked as a traveling nurse, WAGA reported.
The GBI Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) Unit received a request for assistance from the OCSO in December of 2020 regarding the investigation of multiple sex offenses against children allegedly committed by Crooms, the GBI said in a press release.
Investigators discovered the alleged offenses occurred in various locations around the country, as well as in Newton County, Georgia.
“It was determined that Overton became aware of Crooms’ criminal acts and failed to report them to law enforcement,” the GBI noted.
Overton is required under law to report such abuse due to the mandatory reporter requirements of her nursing license.
She was taken into custody in Racine County, Wisconsin on Feb. 23 on charges of failure to report as a mandated reporter and third-degree cruelty to children.
Overton was released on bond after being extradited back to Georgia.
The GBI requested the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), who tracked Crooms down in Stone Mountain, Georgia, according to the press release.
He was booked into the Newton County Detention Center, where he was held without bond, The Covington News reported.