Wife defends Bluffton man accused of sexual assault

astice@islandpacket.comSeptember 11, 2012 

William Riddle

(Editor's note, July 3, 2014: The court has ordered that all records related to William Riddle's arrest on charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct be expunged, according to General Sessions Court records.)

The wife of a man accused of sexual assault said in a statement after his arrest that the allegations are false and a "deliberate and vindictive attack on our family and business."

Shanel Riddle, owner of Bluffton childcare center Kids College, said in an email late Monday night that her husband, 40-year-old William Riddle, is innocent of a charge of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree.

Riddle is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her mid-20s who was employed by his wife at the daycare. The alleged victim had passed out at the Riddles' home early Saturday after coming home with them from bars, according to the Bluffton Police Department.

The woman filed a police report from the Hilton Head Hospital emergency room later Saturday and turned over a camera she found in the Riddles' home that had pictures of William Riddle sexually assaulting her while she slept, according to Sgt. Joe Babkiewicz. Babkiewicz said more than 30 photographs led to the charge filed against him.

Shanel Riddle said she could not elaborate on how the report is an attack on her business but said the couple have "no doubt that once the truth surfaces and real evidence comes to light, this matter will be resolved."

She said she apologized to Kids College parents and staff for placing herself in a "compromising position off premises and in the privacy of my home." She said it does not have any bearing on how she and her staff run Kids College.

The alleged victim and a female friend who also had been out with the group that evening told police they believed they were drugged by William Riddle because they experienced blackouts and other strange behavior after going to the bars, the report said.

However, Babkiewicz said the women had mixed prescription medication and alcohol during the evening, which could have led to the same symptoms.

Police turned up no evidence of drugs during a search of the Riddles' Bluffton home Saturday when William Riddle was arrested, Babkiewicz said. Toxicology tests on the victim are pending.

According to two Beaufort County Sheriff's Office reports, one filed late Saturday night and the other on Monday, Shanel Riddle has been contacting the friend of the alleged victim. The woman told deputies she received harassing text messages, phone calls and an email from Shanel Riddle accusing her of planning the sexual assault allegations and saying, "There was nothing criminal that happened."

At his bond hearing, William Riddle was warned to have no contact with the alleged victim or her friend as a condition of his release from jail on a $25,000 bond, Babkiewicz said. He said the other woman was encouraged to get a restraining order against Shanel Riddle.

He said investigators have uncovered no evidence supporting Shanel Riddle's assertion that the sexual assault allegations are an attack on her business.

"They all went out the night this happened as friends," Babkiewicz said.

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