The attorney for Paul Arthur Crafton, the George Washington University professor arrested in connection with using false identities, described his client yesterday as a "loving, concerned" family man preoccupied with the welfare of his 17-year-old daughter, stricken with cerebral palsy since birth.
The lawyer, John F. Pyfer, said he will ask authorities this week to reduce the $300,000 in bonds on Crafton and release him from the county jail in Lancaster, Pa., where he is being held, because his daughter, Laura, "cannot live without him emotionally and physically."
Crafton, 59, was arrested Monday on the campus of Millersville State College, where college officials say he was teaching under the name of Peter Pearse. Officials at Shippensburg State College say he also was teaching at the same time under the name John Byron Hext. Crafton is charged with two counts each of forgery, tampering with public documents, false swearing and theft by deception.
Pyfer said that Laura Crafton is being cared for by her mother, Sonia, in the Crafton's Potomac home. According to Pyfer, Laura Crafton is confined to a wheelchair and "has not had a bath since her father was arrested . . . . Only the father is strong enough to lift her in and out of the tub."
Sonia Crafton has been able to give her daughter sponge baths, "but that's all," Pyfer said, adding that "Only the father is trained in the kind of physical therapy that Laura needs" for her condition.
Sonia Crafton declined to comment on Pyfer's remarks, saying, I cannot say anything about that."
A neighbor of the Crafton's, Jeanne Glennie, said yesterday that Mrs. Crafton has not left the house since her husband was arrested on Monday. "Neighbors are getting things from the store for her," Glennie said. "She's very nervous and having a hard time eating."
Yesterday, Pyfer showed a reporter a set of color Polaroid photographs of Laura Crafton he said were taken Friday at Crafton's home by an investigator assisting Pyfer in the case.
The pictures showed a girl with short, light hair sitting listlessly in a wheelchair. She was wearing blue jeans, a checked shirt, and sneakers.
When he showed Crafton the pictures in jail yesterday, Pyfer said, "He broke down and wept."
"She needs her father badly," Pyfer said.
Pyfer said he thinks the two cash bonds of $150,000 were imposed on Crafton because the Pennsylvania attorney general's office believes Crafton might flee.
"But every time I see him at the jail," Pyfer said, "he doesn't ask, 'What are you doing for me?' He says, 'How's my daughter and my family?' " When the attorney general "says the guy's going to skip, I just don't see it," Pyfer said.
Patrick Boyle, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said the bond was to prevent authorities from having "to look for him a second time," adding that "his abilities are not to be underestimated."
Laura Crafton is a senior at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, one of 18 students in a special class for the orthopedically handicapped. Robert Hacker, the school's principal, said last week that Mrs. Crafton told him her daughter would be absent in May for an operation.
According to Barbara Stricker, director of the Montgomery County Center for the Handicapped, a private school that Laura Crafton attended from about age 3 to 7, Paul Crafton is "the leader in the family. He was very, very involved with her. He thought she was quite gifted intellectually, especially musically.
"The father was adamant that her abilities be intellectually normal, or even better," she said. Stricker said the Craftons transferred Laura to Forest Knolls Elementary School in Silver Spring.
According to Pyfer, Laura Crafton has had "many operations" over the years, "but they have not had the desired effect."
Rebecca Bogard, 20, a neighbor of the Crafton's for the last 11 years and a former classmate of the Crafton's other child, Eric, 20, said the family frequently went to a Baltimore hospital for treatments for their daughter. "I know she had a few serious operations," she said. "I think her illness can explain their temperaments. I always attributed their seriousness to that."
Pyfer said Laura Crafton had been treated for her condition in "several foreign countries and at several hospitals in the United States. He would not name them.
But, he said, "Even if you have the best medical insurance, it does not cover the cost of lodging and travel . . . . That can get to be expensive if you're traveling to England or Switzerland." CAPTION: Picture, Paul Arthur Crafton . . . held in lieu of $300,000 bond.