Four men who were accused of s*xually assaulting two teenage girls left the courtroom jail-free on Thursday. One of them was even laughing and smiling, and he pleaded guilty to a far lesser charge of battery. Bryce Charleson, Cody Haux, Jamel Quick, and Edward House, all of them from Laurinburg, North Carolina, were offered plea deals after they were all originally charged with s*xual assault. The girls were aged 14 and 15 at the time of the assault that took place at the Sea Gypsy Inn in Myrtle Beach.
The defendants were sentenced to five years probation under the youthful offenders’ act, or YOA, and are currently forbidden to have contact with the victims.
Judge George McFaddin explained to the young men during the arraignment that they were being granted mercy, using some harsh words:
“Mercy is when you don’t get the punishment you deserve. Your conduct on that day was reprehensible and disgusting. Indeed, depraved,”
He then asked how would they sentence the offenders if the crime had been committed against one of their sisters or mothers. The men did not answer.
According to a police report, the two females, aged 14 and 15, claimed that they had been assaulted at the Sea Gypsy Inn on Ocean Boulevard.
They said that they decided to go out for a walk while on vacation with the 15-year-old’s family, and they were met by four male teens while they were strolling. The males invited them to their hotel room at the Sea Gypsy Inn after drinking with them.
Sonya, one of the unnamed victims’ mothers, said that she received a call from her daughter that night. She says that she couldn’t really understand what she was saying until her daughter’s friend got on the phone. From what she understood, she was able to determine that some guys had done something really bad to her.
According to the report by the police, one of the victims claimed that she had been s*xually assaulted by three of the suspects, and the other one said that she was assaulted by one of them. Then they were left on the beach.
Both of the young women wrote letters for the judge, and they were read by an advocate. One of them read:
“I didn’t touch my parents for a long time after coming home. I didn’t let anyone hug me. I jumped at the slightest touch they had given me and it was difficult because, all my life, the safest places were always my parents and that was gone.”
“I let my hopes of going back to school disappear because of my anxiety and I couldn’t last through the day. I fell behind and couldn’t catch up. I missed out on pep rally’s, football games, basketball games, getting a class ring my junior year, prom and graduation,” – the letter continues.
According to the prosecution, there would have to be four separate trials. However, as the victims did not want to relive the crime during the trials, they chose to go with a plea deal for the suspects.
Assistant solicitor Mary-Ellen Walters explains:
“You have to strike a delicate balance and it’s a struggle every day to say, okay this is harsh enough to address what happened to the victim, but it’s reasonable enough or it gives the defendant something to make them want to plea,”
The defendants’ attorneys tried to explain that their clients had just finished school and felt immense remorse for their actions.
As shameful this turn of events is, the four defendants left the courtroom unpunished and with no visible emotion. One of them was even laughing and smiling while has was holding hands with a woman.
The mother said:
“They’re going to continue to go on with their lives and this whole time, I’ve been stuck on April 9th, 2015,”
Test results showed three of the four men’s DNA inside one of the girls, Sonya’s daughter.