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Former Teacher Pleads Guilty to Multiple Counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

Former Teacher Charged with Multiple Counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

Sexual Exploitation of a MinorOn Tuesday, October 14th, a former Horry County teacher pleaded guilty before Judge Edward B. Cottingham on two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in the third degree, and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Shane Allen Watson, a 27-year-old from Surfside Beach, was booked into the J. Reuben Long Detention Center around this time last year, after being charged with communicating obscene messages to minor children.

According to the arrest report, the 13-year-old male victim began receiving sexual text messages around October 13th, 2012. The “sexts” were sent through a phone number masking service called Textem. Watson reportedly posed as a woman, and it is believed that the victim thought the texts were coming from a female classmate. However, the parent who filed the complaint for sexual exploitation of a minor thought that the content of the texts was an adult attempting to engage the child in “a sexually based conversation.”

Watson used his false female identity to communicate with and solicit sexually explicit photos from multiple victims, who were all 13 and 14 year old boys. An investigation into the sexual exploitation of a minor accusations led to two different IP addresses, both of which were registered to Watson. A subsequent search of Watson’s phone and computer uncovered several explicit photos of the victims, which constitutes child pornography.

Watson has been given an ankle monitor, and the judge issued a no contact order between the suspect and the victim. Watson is also not allowed to go to any school functions at all, regardless of whether or not the functions are on school property.

At his first trial date this week, Watson pleaded guilty to the charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, as well as contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Judge Cottingham sentenced Watson to 10 years each for the charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, and three years for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The sentences will run concurrently. Although this sentence is much lighter than the potential 123 years in prison he could have received, Watson will be required to register himself on the Sex Offender registry for life.

Charges of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in SC

The South Carolina law which prohibits criminal solicitation of a minor provides:

A) A person eighteen years of age or older commits the offense of criminal solicitation of a minor if he knowingly contacts or communicates with, or attempts to contact or communicate with, a person who is under the age of eighteen, or a person reasonably believed to be under the age of eighteen, for the purpose of or with the intent of persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing the person to engage or participate in a sexual activity as defined in Section 16-15-375(5) or a violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60, or with the intent to perform a sexual activity in the presence of the person under the age of eighteen, or person reasonably believed to be under the age of eighteen.

(B) Consent is a defense to a prosecution pursuant to this section if the person under the age of eighteen, or the person reasonably believed to be under the age of eighteen, is at least sixteen years old.

(C) Consent is not a defense to a prosecution pursuant to this section if the person under the age of eighteen, or the person reasonably believed to be under the age of eighteen, is under the age of sixteen.

(D) It is not a defense to a prosecution pursuant to this section, on the basis of consent or otherwise, that the person reasonably believed to be under the age of eighteen is a law enforcement agent or officer acting in an official capacity.

(E) A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than ten years, or both.

Defending Charges of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

If you face charges of sexual exploitation of a minor in South Carolina, you could face years in prison and lifetime registration on the sex offender registry. Do not let charges of criminal sexual conduct ruin your reputation and your future. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.