BEAUFORT, SC (Nov. 16, 2023) – A Hilton Head Island man who sexually abused two young neighbors over a period of more than five years has been convicted of 17 charges and sentenced to more than a century in prison.
Timothy Lamar Herndon, 45, was found guilty Thursday by a Beaufort County General Sessions Court jury on five charges of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and 12 charges of sexual exploitation of a minor.
The girls were ages 8 and 11 when Herndon was arrested in 2019.
“Timothy Herndon groomed these girls with toys, costumes and candy. They trusted him. They called him ‘Uncle Timmy,’ ” said 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone, who prosecuted the case. “But he was not the fun Uncle Timmy these girls thought he was. He was a sick, depraved predator who deserves every single second of his prison time.”
Herndon received maximum sentences for each offense. The criminal sexual assault charges and one of the sexual exploitation charges are to run consecutively. The other exploitation sentences are to run concurrently, resulting in a 110-year sentence.
The upper story of Herndon’s home included a game room with video games, DVD movies and furniture styled to resemble Lego blocks. But a cinema-style Ironman poster along one wall concealed a doorway into a stark, uncarpeted room, where investigators found a mattress and video equipment. Law enforcement officers also recovered sex toys and children’s clothing from the home.
Herndon’s crimes were revealed after a relative grew suspicious of his relationship the girls and found a hard drive full of pornographic images of them in the defendant’s home.
The hard drive contained hundreds of videos of the victims and about a thousand still images. Many of the videos demonstrated how Herndon groomed the girls for the abuse, and others showed the defendant’s penis and face. The girls appeared to be drugged in some of the videos, and a small amount of sedative was found in a Tic Tac container hidden in an upper-story bedroom.
Herndon was initially charged by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office with two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor. After further investigation, the Solicitor’s Office issued direct indictments that led to prosecution on 14 additional charges.
Hunter Swanson Simmons, who leads the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office Special Victims Unit, prosecuted the case with Stone. They introduced 68 items into evidence and called eight witnesses during two days of testimony at the Beaufort County Courthouse. Among those offering testimony were investigators from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
Stone also enlisted the FBI to construct a miniaturized replica of Herndon’s home to assist jurors in their understanding of Herndon’s crimes.
“The FBI assisted our office with a model once before, and the level of detail they produce is impressive – down to exact, miniaturized reproductions of individual movie posters on the game room wall,” Stone said. “It took them hundreds of hours to produce this for us, and I’m deeply appreciative. I think it unquestionably helped the jury understand the layout of Herndon’s house of horrors.”
Judge Carmen T. Mullen handed down the sentence.
Swanson is the leader of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office Special Victims Unit, which prosecutes domestic violence, criminal sexual conduct, child abuse and other crimes against vulnerable people.