7 adults charged as 15 kids removed from SC home

WOODRUFF, S.C. (AP) — Seven adults face child neglect charges in upstate South Carolina after 15 children were removed from a dirty, trash-strewn doublewide mobile home where they all lived.

Area media outlets report the adults were charged Wednesday after Spartanburg County sheriff's deputies came to the home in Woodruff to investigate allegations of sexual abuse.

The children were taken into protective custody by the state Department of Social Services.

The adults were released on personal recognizance bonds Wednesday evening and told to have no contact with the children.

A report from the Sheriff's Office said investigators found animal feces, urine, medicine bottles and unsecured guns in the house. The report said that six of the kids were playing in an above-ground pool that was green with algae because it had not been cleaned.

SC business owner charged in arson of own shop

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) — The owner of a Norway auto repair shop has been charged with third degree arson after prosecutors say he hired a man to burn his business.

The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg reported Wednesday that prosecutors say Thomas Blake hired 52-year-old Ernest Leland Smith of Norway to burn his property. Authorities say Blake gave Smith the gasoline to burn the building.

Blake's attorney Gerald Davis said his client was in frail health, but he would return to court.

The Aug. 6 fire burned the Blake Auto Sales shop, a ministry and another shop. No one was hurt.

Smith has been charged with two counts of third-degree arson for the auto shop fire. It was not clear if he has a lawyer.

Harrell: Stemming domestic violence to be priority

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell says preventing domestic violence will be a top priority for the House next year.

Harrell announced Wednesday the creation of a 10-member bipartisan committee that will meet over the off-session with the intention of introducing proposals when legislators return in January.

South Carolina consistently reports high rates of domestic violence incidents.

The latest report by the Violence Policy Center ranks South Carolina first in the country in the rate of women killed by men.

The House committee will be chaired by Republican Rep. Shannon Erickson of Beaufort. Other members include Democratic Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg, who has long advocated for anti-domestic violence measures.

The Legislature failed to pass several proposals this year aimed at stemming abuse.