No jail time for four men accused of raping teens in Myrtle Beach

(MBPD/WPDE background)

Four men accused of raping two teenagers in a Myrtle Beach hotel room in 2015 pleaded guilty to assault and battery charges in court Thursday.

Edward House, Bryce Charleson, Cody Haux and Jamel Quick were originally charged with sexual assault, but were offered plea deals. All four of them are from Laurinburg and were born in 1996 or 1997. That meant they were each 18 or 19-years-old at the time of the crime.

Under those deals, each defendant pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault and battery and were sentenced under the youthful offenders act or YOA.

They were sentenced to five years probation and are not allowed to have contact with the victims.

ABC 15's Summer Dashe was in the courtroom for the proceedings. The family of one of the victims had asked her to FaceTime with them so they could watch the hearing since they were unable to attend. With the judge's permission, she had the family of one victim on FaceTime.

The judge had harsh words for the young men and explained they were being granted mercy.

"Mercy is when you don't get the punishment you deserve," Judge George McFaddin said.

He called the YOA sentence a second chance.

"Your conduct on that day was reprehensible and disgusting. Indeed, depraved," he said.

He asked them if they had sisters.

Three of the men raised their hands.

The judge then asked them if this crime had been committed against one of their sisters or mothers how would they sentence the person who did it? The men didn’t answer and stood quietly.

According to a police report, officers were called to Grand Strand Medical Center on April 9, 2015.

The victims, two females ages 14 and 15, said they were assaulted at the Sea Gypsy Inn on Ocean Boulevard, according to a police report.

The teens were in town from Kentucky on vacation with the 15-year-old’s family. The two had decided to go out for a walk.

During that walk they met the four male teens. The police report says they drank alcohol and went back to the suspects’ hotel room at the Sea Gypsy Inn, according to a police report.

Sonya, one of the victim's mothers, said she got a call from her daughter that night. She doesn't want her last name revealed to protect her daughter's identity.

"I couldn't really make out what she was saying," she recalled.

That's when she said her daughter's friend got on the phone.

"With what she was saying and with what my daughter had said, I was able to determine, that some guys had done something really bad to her," Sonya said.

One victim said she was raped by three of the young men, according to a police report. The other said she was assaulted by one of them, according to a police report.

"The word rape is just so vulgar, but that's what they did," Sonya said. "And then they left her on the beach."

A victim's advocate read letters on behalf of each of the young women. One read, in part, "I didn't touch my parents for a long time after coming home. I didn't let anyone hug me. I jumped at the slightest touch they had given me and it was difficult because all my life, the safest places were always my parents and that was gone."

The statements illustrated difficult emotional issues following April 9, 2015. Each victim described anxiety and fear after the experience.

"I let my hopes of going back to school disappear because of my anxiety and I couldn't last through the day. I fell behind and couldn't catch up. I missed out on pep rally's, football games, basketball games, getting a class ring my junior year, prom and graduation," it continued.

The prosecution explained that because of the circumstances of the crime there would have to be four separate trials. Because of this, Assistant Solicitor Mary-Ellen Walter said a plea deal would be easier on the victims who didn’t want to relive the crime during trials.

"You have to strike a delicate balance and it's a struggle everyday to say, okay this is harsh enough to address what happened to the victim, but it's reasonable enough or it gives the defendent something to make them want to plea," Walters explained.

The defendants’ attorneys each spoke on behalf of their clients explaining they had completed school and felt remorse for what happened that night.

"I don't know that there is any sentence ever that would, in my mind, properly address what happened to those girls," Walter said.

The four defendants left the courtroom with family members and those who came to support them. They did not comment when asked by our reporter.

One walked out laughing and smiling while holding hands with a woman. The others walked out with little visible emotion.

"They're going to continue to go on with their lives and this whole time, I've been stuck on April 9th, 2015," Sonya said.

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