PELION — Terry Jones had seen his neighbors, a couple in their early 50s, working in the yard on several occasions this summer.
But for the past couple of months, Jones said he had only seen Paul Thomas Rawl Jr., a man he knew in passing but not well.
But, according to the Lexington County Sheriff's Department, the Pelion man allegedly had a secret.
Rawl, who was arrested Tuesday, is accused of holding a 52-year-old woman hostage at his home outside Pelion for more than three months, sexually assaulting her multiple times a day and keeping her from running away with threats of violence and drugs, Sheriff James Metts said.
"It has been a while since I've seen the lady," said Jones, who lives near Rawl in a mostly rural area on Clay Springs Road. "I had no idea he had a lady locked up in the house."
Rawl, 52 and a registered sex offender, was charged Tuesday with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, and kidnapping.
Rawl used force to sexually assault her as often as nine times daily between July 1 and Oct. 14, Metts said. He also assaulted her after hitting her, Metts said, and pointing a loaded bow and arrow in her face and threatening to kill her.
An arrest warrant alleges that to ensure the victim remained in the home, Rawl placed a piece of furniture in front of a bedroom door and made the woman take Xanax, a medicine typically prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders. Rawl also is accused of placing a recording device in his bedroom to monitor her movements, the warrant said, and setting the burglar alarm so he would be alerted if a door was opened. The woman also was prevented from using a phone, according to the warrant..
The victim reported the abuse Tuesday morning, Metts said, after she persuaded Rawl to take her to a doctor's office for an examination at Pelion Family Practice. Once there, Metts said, she told staff members that she was in danger and law enforcement officials were called.
When the investigator arrived, he noticed that she was scared and asked where Rawl was, Metts said, noting as she described the incidents to an investigator, she was shaking.
The victim's condition was not known Wednesday night.
Rawl was arrested Tuesday afternoon.
The woman told investigators she previously had lived with Rawl and he was not abusive at that time, Metts said. But she told investigators when she moved back in with him at the Pelion area home in June, he became abusive, the sheriff said.
Rawl was convicted twice previously of criminal domestic violence, in 1993 and 1997, according to a State Law Enforcement Division background check. He also was convicted in 2000 of criminal sexual conduct with a minor. The victim in that case was a 12-year-old girl. He was released from prison in 2008, according to the sex offender registry.
Rawl was being held Wednesday at the Lexington County Detention Center after bond was denied.