Ex-poster child for missing children sentenced for raping girl

Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:03pm EDT

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(Reuters) - A repeat sex offender whose abduction as a child led former President Bill Clinton to order missing-children posters displayed in federal buildings has been sentenced to at least 25 years in prison for raping a 10-year-old girl he was babysitting in upstate New York, local media reported on Saturday.

Adam Croote, 23, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Friday, the Albany Times Union reported, citing law enforcement officials. In March he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of predatory sexual assault against a child near Albany.

Croote, already a registered sex offender, raped and tried to strangle the girl in June 2011, the newspaper reported. He left the house and later surrendered to police, saying, "I think I hurt a little girl."

The girl's father was aware that Croote was a sex offender, the paper said, citing court documents. Croote, however, told him the victim in the earlier incident angered him, "so he grabbed her."

When Croote was 2 years old, his father fatally shot his pregnant mother and left the boy alone with the body, the Times Union said. Croote's grandmothers soon fought over custody.

In 1992 his maternal grandparents abducted him during a visit and set off a nationwide search that ended with FBI involvement, the paper said.

He was found in Kansas in 1995 when a school staffer saw his picture on a flier and called authorities.

His custody went to his paternal grandmother. In 1996, when Croote was 7, the two were invited to the White House, where Clinton signed a memorandum requiring missing-children posters be hung in all federal buildings. Croote was photographed with Clinton and other families involved in missing-children cases.

Croote's first sex offense occurred when he was 17, the Times Union said. He was convicted of forcible sexual contact and labeled a sex offender.

Reuters was unable to reach Albany-area officials to confirm the report.

(Writing by Dan Burns; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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