More details are emerging from the September sexual assault case at Aiken Middle School, a case which has since been closed, according to the Aiken Department of Public Safety.
Officers were called to Aiken Middle School on Sept. 16 for a report of criminal sexual conduct that occurred on Sept. 13, according to the incident report. The report contained few details of the allegations or the parties involved, but stated that on Oct. 24, a subject came to Aiken Public Safety, where he was booked and released to a guardian.
The suspect was charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, according to Capt. Mary Ann Burgess. Both the suspect and victim are 13 years old.
It was reported earlier this week that the case was still being investigated, but Burgess said a case is typically closed with an arrest.
“It's generally closed when someone is taken into custody,” she said, adding that there may be some minor follow-up.
Burgess declined to divulge details of the case, but said school officials contacted Aiken Public Safety about it. The incident was isolated and not ongoing.
“If it's criminal sexual conduct, it's not a consensual act,” Burgess said. “A child cannot consent – not that age of a child.”
Because the defendant is a minor, the case will be handled through Family Court rather than General Sessions. Assistant Solicitor Serena McDaniel, who handles juvenile cases for the Second Circuit Solicitor's Office, said she has not received the report from Aiken Public Safety but expects to have it soon.
McDaniel said once a law enforcement agency completes its complaint, it is sent to the Department of Juvenile Justice. From there, the report goes to the Solicitor's Office.
A request for information on the incident by The Jail Report, a weekly newspaper in Augusta, prompted a release from the City of Aiken on Dec. 18 stating that city staff was seeking an opinion from the attorney general on whether or not it could release information and reports pertaining to a case in which there was a juvenile defendant.
The action potentially meant the public wouldn't know when, where or even if a crime involving minors had occurred. The department denied a Freedom of Information Act request from The Jail Report, saying it couldn't release even the most general information on juvenile defendant cases. Law enforcement is barred from naming juveniles except in limited circumstances, but standard practice is for general details regarding incidents to be released.
City Manager Richard Pearce on Monday said the City was reversing that decision and that Aiken Public Safety would resume its prior policy of routinely releasing documents involving juvenile defendants as long as the juvenile's name and any identifying information were redacted. The City is still awaiting an opinion from Attorney General Alan Wilson in the meantime.
City officials and the Aiken Department of Public Safety said they have not been able to verify whether the incident report for the Aiken Middle School incident was released for public review at Public Safety in September, when the incident occurred.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.