Crime & Public Safety

Bluffton man accused of physically, sexually assaulting a minor for years, police say

Child sexual abuse statistics in the United States

One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
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One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

After a months-long investigation, a 39-year-old Bluffton man was arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct Tuesday.

James Ethridge Jones faces a charge of second-degree assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct, according to Beaufort County court documents.

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James Jones Beaufort County Detention Center

According to a Bluffton Police report, the department began investigating allegations against Jones in early January when they were contacted by Hopeful Horizons — a local children’s advocacy, domestic violence and rape crisis center. The Hopeful Horizons employee told police she had been advised a 16-year-old Bluffton resident had been molested for eight to nine years.

During an interview with the victim, she told police she was both physically and sexually abused by Jones in multiple states and cities, the report said. She said the abuse began when she was 6 years old and living in Bluffton and it continued until 2017.

Second-degree assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct is a felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment, according to S.C. law.

Jones was booked into the Beaufort County Detention Center at 1:19 p.m. Tuesday and was still confined as of Friday afternoon, according to the jail log. As of 2 p.m. Friday, no bond information was listed on the jail log or in court documents.

Hopeful Horizons opened their satellite office in Bluffton on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, but why is this so important?

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Lana Ferguson has covered crime, police, and other news for The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette since June 2018. Before coming to the Lowcountry, she worked for publications in her home state of Virginia and graduated from the University of Mississippi, where she was editor of the college’s daily newspaper.
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