Man pleads guilty to sexual assault
by The Press and Standard | August 30, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: August 28, 2018 at 2:33 pm
A Walterboro man, who had been expected to be the defendant in a trial planned for this week’s Colleton County General Sessions, instead pled guilty when he appeared in a Beaufort County courtroom on Aug. 24.
Ronald K. Harvey, 21, pled guilty to a charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and was sentenced to 15 years in prison by visiting Circuit Court Judge Brooks Goldsmith.
Harvey was arrested on the charge by the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office in connection with the sexual assault of a 6-year-old relative during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2016.
“Harvey befriended this young relative, then took advantage of him,” said Hunter Swanson of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, who prosecuted the case. “I really hope this resolution can allow this child to recover from the trauma he has suffered.”
A female relative was awakened by the child’s scream at about 1 a.m. on Nov. 23, 2016, in a Walterboro home where several family members were staying during the Thanksgiving holiday, according to a press release issued by the solicitor’s office. She went to the living room and discovered Harvey crouched over the boy. He appeared to be fidgeting with his pants and putting a blanket over his victim, who was crying on a couch.
The woman took the boy to a bedroom, where he returned to sleep. The next morning, the woman asked the child what happened the night before. He told her that Harvey sexually assaulted him. The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office was called to investigate.
A physical exam of the victim revealed injuries consistent with a sexual assault. He also told a forensic interviewer that in the past, Harvey had shown him pornography on television and made him touch his *****. The boy also indicated Harvey had sexually assaulted him before.
In a law-enforcement interview, Harvey said he had been out drinking that night. He denied the sexual assault. However, as his interrogation continued, his version of events changed, and he admitted he “might have” fondled the boy while trying to adjust the covers around him.
Swanson is the leader of the Solicitor’s Office Special Victims Unit, which prosecutes criminal sexual conduct, domestic violence and other crimes against vulnerable people. She has secured guilty verdicts against each of the six defendants she has prepared to take to trial since the SVU was formed in 2017.