WALTERBORO, SC (Jan. 3, 2023) – A 43-year-old Walterboro man who sexually abused a young girl has received a maximum prison sentence.
John Clayton Cooper of Prices Bridge Road pleaded guilty Tuesday to third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor in Colleton County General Sessions Court. The state requested Cooper receive the maximum sentence of 15 years for sexually abusing a young female relative over two years, when the girl periodically visited his home.
“This defendant was supposed to have been someone this girl could trust,” said Julie Kate Keeney of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, who prosecuted the case. “Instead, he twisted his role as an authority figure and used it in the most depraved way. This girl was very brave to come forward and shed light on these insidious and dark acts.”
The girl told authorities her abuse began Christmas Eve 2017 when she was 6. Family members became increasingly alarmed when she started exhibiting signs of sexual abuse, to include bed wetting and irritated genitals.
To report sexual abuse of a young child, call 911 or your local law enforcement agency. To learn more about the warning signs of sexual abuse in young children, visit rainn.org/articles/warning-signs-young-children or call the 14th Circuit Victims Services Center at (843) 790-6220 and ask to speak with a pediatric forensic nurse.
Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen handed down Tuesday’s sentence.
Keeney oversees prosecutions in Colleton County. She has been a prosecutor for 11 years.