A former Aiken County assistant principal convicted of child molestation in 2010 is scheduled to be released next March after serving about half his sentence, according to the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.
Stephen Coke Eubanks, 72, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2010 after pleading guilty to raping and exploiting several teenagers over the course of about 20 years. The charges included two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, one count of lewd act upon a child and two counts of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. Eubanks was sentenced to 10 years for each crime, with the sentences running concurrently.
Eubanks’ estimated release date is March 26, 2015, according to previous news reports.
Peter O’Boyle, a spokesman for the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, explained that South Carolina abolished parole for violent crimes in 1996. The abolishment is not pertinent to Eubanks’ case, though, because at the time he committed his crimes, none of them were considered violent offenses. Lewd act on a child has since been reclassified as a violent crime, but Eubanks was “grandfathered in.”
“Even though he wasn’t caught and convicted until well after the fact, he had to be sentenced under the old rules,” O’Boyle said.
Eubanks will also be released early with help from what is known as “good time credit,” according to O’Boyle. South Carolina allows the state Department of Corrections to reward inmates with credits for good behavior and participation in work and educational programs. These credits can be applied toward an inmate’s sentence to establish an earlier release date.
“On non-violent convictions, you get one ‘good time’ day for every day you serve in prison, assuming you don’t commit disciplinaries in prison, you don’t break the rules and lose your good time,” O’Boyle said. “Then you serve approximately half of your sentence before you max out. He’ll complete his sentence after serving approximately half.”
Again, because Eubanks’ charges were considered non-violent when he committed them, he was eligible for good time.
Eubanks was denied parole at a hearing in January 2013, during which he said he had been working in the chaplain’s office at MacDougall Correctional Institute, where he’s been incarcerated. He presented this work, his attendance at “every church service” and his “working with people who have problems with literacy” as evidence that he had been rehabilitated.
At the hearing, Eubanks asked to be released early, saying he “could never do anything like that again,” according to previous reports. When asked why he committed the crimes, Eubanks responded, “ignorance and indiscretion.”
While Eubanks will remain on the S.C. Sex Offender Registry after his release, he will not be subject to lifetime GPS monitoring.
South Carolina passed Jessica’s Law in 2006, named for Jessica Lunsford of Florida, who was sexually battered and murdered by a former sex offender. The law mandates that convicted sex offenders with certain offenses against minors would be subject to satellite GPS monitoring for life. Lewd act on a child is one of the charges.
“If he committed those crimes today, he would not be eligible for parole, and he would have lifetime GPS monitoring,” O’Boyle said. “He’s not getting a break. The legislature went back, looked at it and decided that these crimes needed to be updated and reclassified and parole abolished. But they can’t do that for crimes that happened years ago before the changes in the law.”
Eubanks made juveniles perform various sex acts with him and took some to interstate rest areas where he made them engage in sexual acts with other unidentified men, according to court testimony.
He was also accused of having sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old boy at the former educator’s Belair Road home between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 1993, according to court documents.
Other allegations included that he watched pornography and engaged in masturbation and oral sex after plying teenagers with alcohol and drugs. Charges also stemmed from abuse he inflicted on a North Augusta High School student and a Paul Knox Junior High School student in the 1970s.
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.