(Walhalla, SC). Casey Gaines pled guilty today in Oconee General Sessions Court to 4 counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor, 2nd Degree and one count of Incest. He also pled guilty to one count of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor, 2nd Degree from Richland County and one count of Incest. The Honorable Letitia Verdin sentenced Gaines to 18 years on each count of Criminal Sexual Conduct, 2nd Degree charges and 10 years on the Incest charges. Sentences are to be served concurrently. The defendant will be required to register as a sex offender.  

 

In February of 2014, two victims reported to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office that they had each had sexual relationships with Gaines while they were minors. One of the victims had given birth to a child while she was 14 years of age. DNA results confirmed that Gaines was the father. The second victim had sexual relations with Gaines that began when she was 10 years     of age and continued for several years. This victim was related to the defendant within the degrees of kinship sufficient to establish incest per SC law.  

 

“Casey Gaines is a predator,” stated Solicitor Chrissy Adams. “His actions were deplorable and have affected these two girls immensely. We hope that the sentences imposed will allow these victims to begin the healing process.”

 

(Walhalla, SC). Richard Rittmayer pled guilty today in Oconee General Sessions Court to Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor, 3rd Degree. The Honorable Letitia Verdin sentenced Rittmayer to the maximum sentence of 15 years. He will receive credit for time served. The defendant will be on the Sex Offender Registry as well as the DSS Central Registry. 

 

In September of 2014, the Walhalla Police Department received a report from James M. Brown Elementary that a 4-year old student had disclosed sexual abuse to a school district staff member. A forensic interview of the child revealed that Rittmayer had sexually abused the child in July 2014. The defendant was interviewed and confessed to law enforcement that the incident had occurred while he was drinking heavily and taking pills.  

 

“Richard Rittmayer’s actions were sick and twisted,” stated Solicitor Chrissy Adams. “Being under the influence of drugs and alcohol does not justify his actions. The victim in this case deserves justice and with today’s guilty plea this defendant will spend the next decade and a half in prison. We hope that that this young child will now know that she is safe and Rittmayer cannot hurt her any more.” 

 

(Anderson, SC). Travis Devon Jones pled guilty today in Anderson General Sessions Court to Unlawful Neglect of a Child and a probation violation. The probation sentence originated with Jones’ guilty plea in March of 2014 to a possession of crack cocaine. The Honorable Daniel Hall sentenced Jones to 3 years with treatment in the Addiction Treatment Unit of SC Department of Corrections.  

 

On June 6th, the ACSO was called out to 950 Cherry Street in Pendleton in reference to a missing 11 month old child, Leonna Wright.  Jones, who was the children’s mother’s boyfriend, had been caring for Leonna and her 3 year old sister. The 3 year old was subsequently taken into DSS custody. Law enforcement was notified by DSS that the 3 year old child had tested positive for methamphetamine, cocaine, and THC, which resulted in Jones being charged with Unlawful Neglect.  The defendant admitted to using drugs while taking care of the child.  

 

“Mr. Jones’ drug use led to reckless actions,” said Solicitor Chrissy Adams.  “It is important to note that Jones pled guilty only as it relates to the 3 year old child testing positive for drugs while in his care. No criminal charges have been filed in reference to the missing child at this time. I urge anyone with information about the disappearance of Leonna Wright to contact law enforcement immediately.”

 

(Anderson, SC).  A courthouse facility dog will soon be joining the Tenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office to help comfort and support victims and their families during the investigation and prosecution of crimes. Facility dogs are specially trained assistance dogs that work alongside a professional in a service capacity to assist many other people.  Facility dogs specially selected to work in the legal system are confident, affectionate, and comfortable having close physical contact, especially with children.  These dogs also have the temperament to be able to interact with all people from many walks of life in a high stress environment for extended periods of time. There are currently 87 courthouse facility dogs working in 28 states.  This will be the first courthouse facility dog in South Carolina. 

 

In the Tenth Circuit, the dog will help provide a sense of calm to anxious victims and witnesses during forensic interviews, meetings with prosecutors, and on the stand during trial.  Solicitor Chrissy Adams plans to have the new dog begin working in the Solicitor’s Office in November. The Solicitor’s Office has been selected to receive a dog through Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. 

 

Assistant Solicitor Chelsey Moore will be the dog’s handler and primary caretaker. She will travel to CCI’s Southeast Facility at the end of October to undergo an intensive, two-week training with the new dog.  Prior to Moore’s arrival, the dog will have undergone two years of socialization and training.  He or she will be a bred and trained graduate of CCI, an Assistance Dogs International accredited organization.  Even though CCI facility dogs are valued at $50,000 at the time of their placement, CCI provides the dog, two weeks of training for the handler, the liability insurance, and on-going oversight of the team free of charge.

 

Courthouse Dogs Foundation founder Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, a retired senior deputy prosecuting attorney, and Executive Director Celeste Walsen, DVM, are coming from Washington state along with their own courthouse facility dog, Molly B., to provide onsite training for courthouse staff, lawyers and judges regarding the legal and practical aspects of including a facility dog in the investigation and prosecution of crimes.   The public is invited to meet with the Courthouse Dogs Foundation team and learn more about how these remarkable dogs help make the legal system more humane.  This presentation will take place on Friday, October 16th from 3:00-4:00 PM on the third floor of the Anderson County Courthouse. 

“We are honored to be the first Solicitor’s Office in the state to be selected for this program,” said Solicitor Chrissy Adams.  “We have made a concerted effort to bring innovation and new programs to the 10th Circuit.  This latest effort is another way that we can assist victims and ensure that we are doing all we can to bring to justice to the citizens in our community.”