UPDATE: Trial starts for man facing 28 child sex abuse charges in Aiken Co.

Harold Cartwright III (WRDW-TV)

Harold Cartwright III (WRDW-TV)

Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- The trial for a man charged with over 20 sexual abuse crimes began on Tuesday.

In all, Harold Cartwright, who goes by Bo, has been indicted on 28 counts, all of which allegedly happened in the North Augusta area.

The crimes spanned several years and involved three victims.

The victims, who are now older or adults, say Cartwright started the behavior more than 20 years ago when they were still small children. In fact, one allegation claims Cartwright began molesting one of the girls in 1989, when she was just 4 years old. Some parts of the testimony included graphic discussions of alleged sex acts.

Assistant Solicitor Bill Weeks is prosecuting the case for the State of South Carolina.

In his opening statement, he told the jury that they will likely be disturbed by the testimony, and they will hear more about child molestation than they ever wanted to. He said the acts didn't take place in a public square or a convenience store but in the privacy of Cartwright's home.

The three victims testified Tuesday and described the sex acts in graphic detail. One said Cartwright even threatened to throw her in the Augusta Canal unless she had sex with him. She also said the defendant held a knife to her throat until she did.

Others said that Cartwright would give them gifts of money or clothes in exchange for sex. She also said that when she resisted, Cartwright would physically stop her from doing so. All three said the sex acts happened off and on. They say there were some periods where Cartwright would molest them multiple times per week.

Bob Harte of Aiken is Cartwright's defense attorney.

Despite the charges, the defense team claims Cartwright is innocent and says the victims are making up the stories. He said they had an ax to grind with the defendant.

He says in early 2011, Cartwright discovered pornographic photos of two of the girls online. He confronted the girls about the photos, and it was only then, he says, that they retaliated with claims of sexual abuse, and another victim jumped in with claims, too.

Cartwright was arrested in March 2011 for child molestation. At that time, he had 12 warrants. Cartwright was taken to the hospital in April 2011 after a suicide attempt at the Aiken County Detention Center.

Cartwright faces the following charges (see note below):

- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree (of a 15-16 -year-old)
- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree (of a 9-year-old)
- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree (of a 4-year-old)
- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree (of a 5-year-old)
- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree (of a 6-year-old)
- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree (of a 7-year-old)
- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree (of a 8-year-old)
- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree (of a 9-year-old)
- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree (of a 10-year-old)
- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the second degree (of a 14-year-old while defendant was in familial or official authority of victim)
- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the second degree (of a 15-year-old)
- Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the third degree (of a minor who was mentally defective or physically helpless)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 2000-2001)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 2006-2007)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 2005-2006)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 2004-2005)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 2003-2004)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 2002-2003)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 2008-2009)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 2009-2010)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 2010-2011)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 1989-1990)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 1990-1991)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 1991-1992)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 1992-1993)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 1993-1994)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 1994-1995)
- Lewd act upon a child (from 1995-1996)

(*NOTE: Each listed incident includes a separate indictment, because the punishment is possibly different for each age group.)

According to South Carolina Code of Laws, a person convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned for a mandatory minimum of 25 years, no part of which may be suspended or probation granted or must be imprisoned for life. Cartwright faces nine counts of CSC in the first degree.

For CSC in the second degree, a person convicted of it is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned for no less than 10 years nor more than 30 years, no part of which may be suspended or probation granted. Cartwright faces two counts of CSC in the second degree.

For CSC in the third degree, a person convicted of it is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten years, according to the discretion of the court. Cartwright faces one count of CSC in the third degree.

For committing or attempting lewd act upon child under 16 years old, a person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than 15 years or both. Cartwright faces 16 counts of committing or attempting lewd act upon child under 16.

Offenders convicted of sex offenses who live in South Carolina must also register as sex offenders.


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