Aiken Area Progressive

Progressive blog for the Central Savannah River Area.

Category: Aiken

Administrative office of local shelter for victims of sexual violence re-locates to Aiken’s truck route

Aiken — Truck drivers who are victims of sexual violence can now park their 18-wheelers at the administrative office of a local shelter.

The Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons, the first shelter in South Carolina to accept male victims of sexual violence committed by women, has moved their administrative office to 254 Beaufort Street.

Beaufort Street is still the main truck route in Aiken to this day.

In an interview with the Aiken Standard, executive director Susan Selden said that this is the first time in the group’s history they have moved. From its beginnings in 1981 until this week, the Cumbee Center’s administrative office was located in downtown Aiken.

“We’ve been cramped in that little office since before I got there, with very narrow hallways for clients to walk down,” Ms. Selden told the Standard. “…We wanted them (clients) to have more privacy, and this fall, we hired more staff because of increased demand and we had to have somewhere to put them.”

That little office was on Lancaster Street, a place where trucks – and especially thru trucks – are prohibited from accessing and have been prohibited from accessing since before the Cumbee Center’s existence.

Ms. Selden noted that she has seen a marked rise in clients, especially male clients who were abused by spouses and female clients who were sexually assaulted or raped.

“They’re showing up to the hospital, and then we provide services after their hospital (visit), after their rape kits,” said Ms. Selden. “So, there’s been a definite increase in our hospital advocacy. We’ve seen more domestic violence clients. We’ve done more orders of protections this year than I remember, so we’ve had to hire additional staff.”

The Cumbee Center hired three staff members right away in October with its Victims of Crime Act Grant from the state’s Attorney General Office. Ms. Selden said she’s looking to hire additional staff members by the week ending on January 27, 2018.

The services offered at the organization’s new location will be the same as the previous location. That includes crisis care, counseling, case management and assistance with filing orders of protection.

Inside is Ms. Selden’s office, a little more than half a dozen offices for staff members, a kitchen and storage space, as well as a large conference area that can be used for trainings and community collaboration meetings.

Ms. Selden, who has been in her role since 2015, said she is excited about the move.

“I feel like we’ve gotten more awareness out which is one of the original goals … and we’re seeing more people come out,” she said. “I don’t know if theres an increase in violence. I think they know they can get good service here. Hopefully, they trust us.”

And although there is still a lot of moving taking place, Ms. Selden said, “We are officially open now. …This is the location to come to.”

Like all other businesses in the city, The Cumbee Center will go through a zoning process before signage goes up, but for those who still need assistance finding the location, it is located near Probation Parole and Pardon Services, as well as the Aiken County Health Department. Unlike with the previous location, The Cumbee Center’s new administrative office is now very easily accessible for truck drivers who may need to find a place to go and get out of a violent relationship.

It is also roughly a half mile from the new Aiken Department of Public Safety headquarters – also located on Beaufort Street.

There is also signage at the old location about the move.

The Cumbee Center also operates confidential emergency shelters in Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell, Edgefield and McCormick counties. If you or someone you know needs assistance and/or access to the shelter, you can call the center’s hotline numbers. They are 803-259-4451 and/or 803-649-0480.

 

Update at 10:28: The shelters themselves are located in private areas. The Cumbee Center’s administrative office is the place that relocated. We apologize for the error.

Senior pair wanted by ADPS for failing to pay for food at Apizza di Napoli

Aiken — A senior pair is wanted by the Aiken Department of Public Safety after they left Apizza di Napoli without ever paying for their food.

Managers, employees and patrons said, in layman’s terms, the pair “dined and dashed” an knowingly left without ever paying a penny for their food.

CCTV cameras at various angles captured the images of the pair, and two stills are posted above the text.

Call the Aiken Department of Public Safety or the Midlands Crime stoppers Toll Free if you know anything about this duo or their whereabouts.

More Republican corruption and immorality on display: Corley, who represents Aiken County, arrested for domestic violence

Chris Corley.jpg

Graniteville — One idiot who wants hotheaded enthusiasts to brandish guns in front of your five year old kids on school grounds was arrested for criminal domestic violence in the first degree. Read the rest of this entry »

Robin Herndon jailed for 19 years for killing fuck buddy

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North Augusta — A forty-two year old female state correctional officer was found guilty of manslaughter in the Aiken County shooting death of her fuck buddy 30 months ago.

Robin Herndon, now 42, of North Augusta, was charged with murder after gunning her 31-year-old fuck buddy down on November 6, 2013. She faced life in prison, with the minimum sentence of 30 years in jail. She was immediately axed from her job as a South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon officer. Ms. Herndon passed on a plea deal when prosecutors presented it.

Aiken County Sheriff’s officers were dispatched to the SUDLOW LAKE RD residence on the aforementioned day in 2013 where they found the victim with a solitary gunshot wound to the neck. He was taken to a hospital across the Savannah River, where he later died.

Ms. Herndon told the court an argument that afternoon turned violent after the victim threw her car keys on top of the roof of her home. She testified that she “was in fear for her life” when she drew her gun and aimed it toward him, and her pistol accidentally discharged when the victim hit it with one of his hands.

The Lexington-based First Solitictor’s Office prosecuted this case, though the venue didn’t change from the circuit courtroom in Aiken. Both Ms. Herndon and the victim were well-known by the public agencies in Aiken, Bamberg and Barnwell counties.

Ms. Herndon was convicted of manslaughter on March 18.

Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Aiken Office investigating ADPS for civil rights violations

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AIKEN, S.C. — An incident of public indecency committed by deputies from the Aiken Department of Public Safety eighteen months ago has caused the nation’s top law enforcement agency to step in and investigate four ADPS deputies.

The investigation comes as a couple, whose names will not be provided here, filed a lawsuit against both the department and the city over the invasive search that also violated Aiken’s 1992 public indecency ordinance, which calls for the prosecution of any one who procures a person to be in a state of nudity in a public place. That ordinance doesn’t make any exceptions for police searches, regardless of whether such a search is legal or not (and this search was illegal anyways).  Videos of the stop are in federal civil court in Aiken. Read the rest of this entry »

Confirmed: Tornados hit four local counties

AIKEN — It’s official.

The National Weather Service in Columbia said that two tornados hit four local counties on Sunday, including a long-tracked tornado that formed in Burke County and tracked all the way to near Chapin in Lexington County.

That particular tornado was the catalyst of the damage done to the city of Aiken, both North Aiken and South Aiken.

The second, more brief tornado, was confirmed in Edgefield County.

They were among five twisters confirmed between the Columbia and Wilmington county warning areas within the state.

Aiken County Sheriff’s officers: Aiken man shoots woman to death after being careless in handling loaded firearm

Suspect arrested for 20th time

steven thurmond 19 mugshots

http://www.openstreetmap.org/export/embed.html?bbox=-81.6889500617981%2C33.46594204781782%2C-81.66500329971313%2C33.476269897038286&layer=mapnik&marker=33.47110612628393%2C-81.67697668075562
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AIKEN — Here’s something you won’t see on your local news this week.

Maybe the twentieth time will be the charm.

A 32-year-old Aiken County man was arrested for the shooting death of his friend with benefits.

Officers from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office responded to CROSSROADS PARK DR around 0:24 today.

Upon arrival, they found a 31-year-old woman badly injured from a gunshot wound to the chest.

The 31-year-old victim died at 1:27.

Officers determined the suspect was completely careless in the handling of the loaded firearm, which led to the shot that killed the victim.

Steven Keith Thurmond, 32, was arrested by the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and charged with involuntary manslaughter and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.

According to the Jail Report, he had 19 prior arrests, some of which turned into convictions that landed him on the felons’ list.

He is still at the Aiken County Jail.
Read the rest of this entry »

Today in Weather History: the 30th anniversary of the coldest low (and day) in Barnwell County’s history – in Williston

Yesterday and today are important weather anniversaries – and yes, both of 30-year anniversaries.

It may have been a spring-like 60°f for a max temp on Tuesday (and the same forecast again today), but 30 years ago today, that was not the case.

On January 21, 1985, the day started off as the second coldest day in the county’s history day temperature-wise – it was –2°f. A Banana Front so powerful shredded its way through the nation, and the historic cold was just about to be in store for the town of Williston, or Barnwell County for that matter.

The skies cleared throughout the night the previous night.  That allowed the temperatures to fall like a rock.

At 1am, the mercury in Williston fell to –3°f, tying the record set in Blackville on Valentine’s Day 1899. This would prove to be the last minutes that the Valentine’s Day 1899 record would stand as the county’s coldest ever.

At around 1:30 am, the mercury dipped to a mind-boggling (at the time) –4°f, breaking the mark set at the Clemson Extension station in Blackville in 1899.

Then, just before sun up, a new county record was set again: this time, –5°f.

Then it started to ‘heat up’ once the sun went up.

It did not get above zero until 11am, when the temperature hit 1°f.

It was still 5°f at noon.

It got above ten at 2pm, when the temperature hit 12°f.

It got up to 18°f the next hour, and then 19°f at each reporting hour after that for the rest of the day.

However, the max temperature in Williston was 20°f – but that temperature was not reached until 23:59:36, just 24 seconds in front of January 22, 1985.

Yes, Williston School District 29 missed being below 20 by 24 seconds on this day in 1985.

At Orangeburg Municipal Airport; the Regional Airport in Augusta, Ga.; and Columbia Metropolitan Airport, the low was –1°f in each location.  All three are record lows that still stand to this day.

City or Town 
Max Temperature (1/20) 
Min Temperature (1/20) 
Max Temperature (1/21) 
Min Temperature (1/21) 
Average Temperature on Coldest Day 
Williston-Elko High 
43
-2
20
-5 
7
Aiken 
47
6
25
0
12
Orangeburg Municipal 
46
10
28
-2
13
Hampton 
 50
9
26
-1
12 
Beaufort 
 
 
26 
16 
Barnwell County Airport 
46 
18 
27 
-3 
12 
Charleston 
 
 
27 
6 
17 
Daniel Field 
55 
30 
15 
Augusta (Ga.) Regional 
46 
25 
-1 
12 
Owens Field 
39 
24 
-1 
11 
Cayce 
46 
26 
-1 
12 
Florence 
48
25 
13 
Darlington 
48 
3 
22 
-2 
10 
North Myrtle Beach 
 
 
26
15
Greenwood 
38 
-1 
20
-8 
6
Greer 
40
26
-4
11 
Asheboro Regional 
40
0
26
-8
10
Greensboro 
36
-6 
21
-8
7
Asheville 
32
-13 
7
-16
-5
Jefferson, N.C. 
32 
-11 
0
-12
-6
Tarboro, N.C. 
47
10
17 
-5
6
New Bern 
53 
22
1
11
Charlotte 
41
-2 
24 
-5
9
Winston-Salem 
39 
-3
20 
-10 
5
Wilmington 
 
 
27 
5
16 
Statesboro 
54 
28 
0
14
Savannah-Hilton Head 
 
 
26
15
Macon 
45 
24
-6
9
Atlanta 
43 
-6
18
-8 
5
Knoxville, Tenn. 
24
-18
10
-24
-7
Nashville 
7
-16
17 
-17
-4 
Crossville, Tenn. 
-21
11 
-21 
-8
Memphis 
17 
-4 
24 
1 
6
Drakesboro, Ky. 
0 
-16 
8
-14 
-8
Paducah, Ky. 
1
-15 
17
-10
-7 
Woodbine, Ky. 
-2 
-18 
6
-16 
-10
Lexington, Ky. 
1 
-18
9
-16 †
-9
Louisville, Ky. 
2
-16
12 
-11 
-6 
Jackson, Ky. 
-18
5
-18 
-6
Olive Branch, Miss. 
22
-4 
26
2 
9
Tupelo, Miss. 
18 
-4
24 
-6 
9
Huntsville, Ala. 
18 
-9
16 
-11 
3
Muscle Shoals, Ala. 
16
-8
17
-11 
3 
Bristol, Tenn. 
25
-16
0
-21
-11
Roanoke, Va. 
30
-10
9
-11
-1
Washington, D.C. 
21
-7
17
-7 †
5

† – not a record low (records are as follows: in Lexington, Ky., –17°f on January 21, 1984; in Washington, D.C., –16°f on January 21, 1984.)

There are many other records that are not on the list, as this was the historic cold event in the United States history.  Look up those on http://wunderground.com/.  Type in the airport code and access the records for both January 20 and 21, 1985.  It’s free!

With the notable exception of the beach counties (Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Georgetown and Horry), every county’s record low occurred some time between 1982 and 1985.  Those six aforementioned counties are the only six counties that still have a record low from Valentine’s Day 1899.

Paul Waters pleads guilty to raping pupil

* trigger warning issued for this post for descriptions of physical and sexual abuse of females *

Aiken — A former Williston-Elko High School teacher pleaded guilty to raping a pupil while he was at a teacher at South Aiken High School.

Paul Waters, a former teacher of the two aforementioned schools, made the plea in the Aiken County Courthouse on Thursday, to a count of double sexual battery, per federal guidelines and law dealing with authority figures who sexually abuse subordinates.

He was originally indicted on five counts of the charge.

Mr. Waters was arrested by the Aiken Department of Public Safety in December on charges of raping a 16-year-old South Aiken pupil, per federal statute.

Assistant Solicitor Ashley Hammack said the relationship began through mobile phone and social media communication but quickly escalated.  The victim was not in any of Mr. Waters’s classes or on the teams that he coached.

“A friend of the victim had seen some messages between the defendant and the victim on the phone,” Ms. Hammack told the court Thursday.  “She saw a particular message referencing condoms.”

The friend went to her parents.  Her mother then contacted South Aiken.

Mr. Waters and the victim met up several times weekly in his classroom after school ended and at the GameStop parking lot on WHISKEY RD.  The sexual battery included, “among other things, oral sex and digital penetration.”

Mr. Waters confessed when interviewed by police, and investigators were able to pull surveillance footage from the school that showed Mr. Waters and the student in his classroom for “extended periods of time” after school hours.

When asked by Judge Hill if that was what happened, there was a long pause before Waters responded, “Yes, sir.”

The victim was at school and elected not to show up in court on Thursday.  Her mother did show up, though, but she was so broken by Mr. Waters’s admission of raping her daughter, she was not able to read her own prepared statement.  So, an advocate from the Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons read the statement instead.

“I fully believed I was sending my daughter to school to learn, and I felt she would be safe,” noted the statement.  “Instead, she was slowly being manipulated into an adult relationship.”

Attorney James Whittle said his client felt trapped in the “web of deceit” Mr. Waters weaved, afraid to come forward about the relationship at the risk of losing his family.  He voluntarily resigned from Aiken County Public Schools earlier this year and has permanently surrendered his teaching credentials.

Mr. Waters and his wife separated shortly after his arrest, Mr. Whittle said, adding that Waters has a “desire to reunite.”

Mr. Waters told the court that he is remorseful to the victim and her family.

“I should have put my foot down when I felt like it was heading in the wrong direction.  To this day, not a moment goes by where I don’t think about the things I did,” he said.  “There’s nothing in this world I want more than to have the opportunity to rebuild something that I, myself, tore apart.”

So, Mr. Waters wants to reunite with his wife…the one that he abused regularly ever since his days at Williston-Elko.  The wife who he forced to get dressed in the dark.  The wife who had miscarriage after miscarriage and at least one stillborn.  Mr. Waters may be branded as a rapist in the eyes of the public, but he is also a classic domestic abuser…one that happened to fly under the radar for as long as I could remember.

And this was the man who hung around a certain then-cheerleading coach for the Blue Devils while I was at Williston-Elko.  Disgusting doesn’t even begin to describe his manipulative behavior around females.

I hope that his wife files for divorce.  She deserves better than this abuser.

Take a shower if you need to, readers.  The actions of Paul Waters are totally revolting.

Aiken Standard

Former Williston-Elko High School teacher accused of rape resigns from positions at South Aiken

AIKEN — A former Williston-Elko High School teacher arrested in December for rape has resigned from his positions at South Aiken High School, where the incident occurred.

Paul Michael Waters submitted his resignations at South Aiken High School on Thursday.  He faces five counts of criminal sexual conduct.

Although the age of consent is 16 in the state, they are allowed to ban sexual relationships between people in any profession who are in positions authority and subordinates (such as teacher-student and mental health counselor-patient) until the subordinate party is 18 years of age or older, per federal law.

“For right now what we know is the alleged incidents took place began sometime around September and they involved on school property and off-school property,” said Aiken Department of Public Safety Deputy Jeremy Hembree.

“16 is the age of consent as a minor to where you become an adult.  However anytime a student-teacher relationship involved, it takes on a different meaning to where you have to determine age and the official duties of that person in their capacity as a teach or a faculty member.”

WFXG Fox 54

Read the rest of this entry »

Former Williston-Elko and current South Aiken teacher, coach arrested for sexual assault

Aiken — A former Williston-Elko High School and current South Aiken High School teacher and coach has been arrested for sexual assault.

An investigation by the Aiken Department of Public Safety and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Department revealed that the suspect was involved in an ongoing, unlawful physical relationship with a female pupil. A police report says the relationship occurred between September and December.

Paul Michael Waters, 41, of CASABA DR, Aiken, was arrested by ADPS and charged with five counts of sexual battery.

A profile of Mr. Waters on a school website says pupils know the suspect as “Coach Waters.”

“I have been teaching Economics and Geography here at South Aiken going on 11 years now,” Coach Waters wrote on the website. “I enjoy teaching young people in hopes of one day making a difference in their lives. I LOVE coaching and I am a sports fanatic.”

The site says Coach Waters is the defensive back coach for the Thoroughbreds’ football team and head Thoroughbred boys’ soccer coach — the same positions he coached at Williston-Elko High School back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was also a social studies teacher at W-E at that time.

He is currently at the Aiken County Jail.

Disappointed can’t describe how a lot of us feel about this.

Joey Leaphart goes directly back to jail on bench warrants

Bench warrants send Leaphart back to jail

Joey Leaphart (WRDW-TV)

AIKEN — Joey Leaphart is back in the news again — this time, for bench warrants that are finally being served.

You may remember that he was arrested two previous times this year alone for sexual assault: once in Grovetown, Ga. and once in Aiken.

Now, the 44-year-old known for having a foot fetish (not nearly as wicked as mine, of course!) has been served long-awaited bench warrants from the Aiken Department of Public Safety, although ADPS hasn’t elaborated what the warrants were for.

Mr. Leaphart is now at the Aiken County Jail for the second time in four months.  You can see WRDW’s interview with Mr. Leaphart by clicking on this link.

WRDW News 12


Man arrested for soliciting sex from 14-year-old girl…on Craigslist

CHARLESTON — A Charleston County man is in the clink for using Craigslist to solicit sex from a 14-year-old girl.

Deputies said that the 32-year-old man arrived at an undisclosed location to rape a girl he met on Craigslist who he thought was 14, but was really an undercover Charleston Police Office deputy.

The suspect made contact with an online Craigslist ad in the Casual Encounters/Personals section created by a CPO detective who was posing as a teenage girl.

The suspect then made his way on Thursday to sexually assault the “minor”, but was apprehended.

He confessed to a CPO deputy that “his intention was to have sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl”.  Deputies admitted that the ad was created to combat sexual exploitation of children on the internet.

Brian Scott Stephenson, 32, was arrested Thursday by the Charleston Police Office and charged with attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor.  He is at the Charleston County Jail on $100,000.00 bond.

WTOC 11, WCSC-DT Live 5

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