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Local man sentenced in sexual assault of horse, child porn

Damian Connor
Damian Connor(WRDW)
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 4:36 PM EST
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - An Aiken County man pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to prison for sexually assaulting a horse and possession of child pornography.

Damian Connor, 33, pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of buggery in connection with the sexual assault of the horse, according to Deputy Solicitor David W. Miller.

On each charge, Connor was sentenced Wednesday to five years with the South Carolina Department of Corrections that will be suspended to three-years plus four years of probation. The sentences will be served concurrently.

He’ll have to register as a sex offender, as well.

It all grew out of a September 2019 case that was previously investigated by the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.

Warrants say a forensic investigation of electronics in an unrelated case unearthed evidence of the act with a horse on two separate occasions in May 2019 and June 2019.

Deputies had been called to a residence on Willow Run Road and found a horse with its neck tied to a tree and legs tied together. The horse’s owner, Abigail Ronco also Connor’s wife — said she found the horse in that condition when she came out to the stable that morning.

Ronco was eventually charged with buggery, as well.

In another bizarre twist in the case, the man who was Ronco’s partner, horse trainer Martijn Stuurman, was found dead this past June. After the episode involving the horse and other assaults of horses in his care, he’d moved to Chesnee in Spartanburg County to start a new life.

His death is being investigated as a homicide, and Spartanburg County authorities said soon after the death that there was a potential person of interest in the Aiken area.

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