Before he was sentenced to 40 years in prison, a freshly convicted child rapist was eviscerated by a Circuit Court Judge.
“The way you treated (these children) is despicable beyond all decency,” Judge Doyet A. “Jack” Early sternly told the guilty man in front of him. “You don't deserve to be out in society. To me, it is just despicable. I think you are in complete denial, sir.”
Found guilty of 28 charges of routinely raping three girls, as young as 4, over more than two decades, Harold B. Cartwright III will serve a 30 year sentence for 27 of the criminal sexual conduct with a minor, criminal sexual conduct and lewd act charges. Once that is completed, he will begin a 10-year sentence for a second degree criminal sexual conduct charge.
Early's claims Cartwright was in denial came after he continued to deny the actions of which 12 of his peers found him guilty of, beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Yes, sir. I'm not guilty, sir,” Cartwright said. “I understand you found me guilty.” Cartwright continued to argue evidence in the case until Early cut him off.
“I'm not the finder of the facts ... but I found (your victims) to be believable, most believable. Most credible. And, I found your testimony to be uncredible, most uncredible. Terrible,” Early said with emphasis.
The three-day case was prosecuted by Assistant Solicitors Kevin Molony and Ashley Agnew.
“Truly, its about the, now grown, women,” Molony said after the trial concluded. “They finally get a chance to try to move on with their lives. They finally get some justice. Years and years of torture is what they dealt with … the jury definitely got it right.”
In his closing statement, Molony urged the jury to focus on the specifc, detailed recollections of the victims and to contrast those with the “ridiculous stories” of the defendant.
“The details, these are the details. You don't make these things up. (One victim said) she was sexually abused, in the computer room, under the desk, by the victim,” Molony said. “Hitting my toe on the coffee table with a knife to my throat – the details. They told you the details.”
The courtroom had to listen to the victims describe the attacks in sensory detail again, as the jury asked to hear certain testimony again to clarify timelines in the charges. The charges were dated from 1989 until 2011.
The sentences are for no-parole offenses, so 48-year-old Cartwright must serve a minimum of 34 years in prison before he is eligible for release.
Early took time after sentencing to thank all involved in the case for their efforts.
“To my jury, I commend you,” he said. “It's difficult to come in here and hear these facts”
“I commended the defense attorneys, Mr. Routzong, Mr. Hayes you did an excellent job ... a credit to the Bar.” he said. “The Solicitor's office prepared the investigation thoroughly. And I commended the Sheriff's Office for a thorough investigation. Something we need more of in this state.”
Michael Routzong and Dave Hayes, both of the Aiken County Public Defender's office, defended Cartwright.
Afterward, there was a great sense of relief from the victims and their family members. As the first guilty verdict was read out, the youngest victim sobbed, closed her eyes, laid her head on the shoulder of a victim's advocate and hugged her.
Exiting the courthouse, one victim remarked to another, “Don't you just feel about 100 pounds lighter?”
This was the second trial for Cartwright. In his first trial, a mistrial was declared when the jury remained deadlocked.