South Carolina

Minister admits to sexually assaulting teen girl who had two abortions, SC cops say

A minister accused of raping a 13-year-old girl pleaded guilty this week in Spartanburg, South Carolina, court records show.

Deputies arrested Phillip Jerard Buckson at his Upstate church in February. The girl told investigators that Buckson had assaulted her “multiple times,” according to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.

She said the minister got her pregnant twice and both times she had abortions, deputies said.

Buckson pleaded guilty this week to two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor age 11 to 14, court records show.

A judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison and five years’ probation, according to online court records. His full sentence is 20 years in prison, but half of that time was suspended. He will also have to register as a sex offender.

Police originally charged Buckson with four counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, but dropped two of the charges.

The sheriff’s office began investigating Buckson after a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on Jan. 30, deputies said in a news release.

Investigators found the girl, who detailed her history of abuse by the minister, the sheriff’s office said, according to The State newspaper.

The girl said she first had “sexual intercourse” with the man in October 2015 when she was 13, The State reports.

The abuse continued for several years, she told investigators, and Buckson got her pregnant twice when she was in the ninth grade, according to the incident report. She had abortions both times to end the pregnancies, according to The State.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.