Cellphones and drones continue to lead to trouble in SC prisons
A South Carolina inmate serving time for sexually assaulting a 6-year-old family member faces new charges after he repeatedly contacted another former victim from prison and asked her for nude pictures, according to police.
Samuel Lamont Whitner, 34, is charged with first-degree criminal conduct, the Greenville Police Department announced Thursday.
Whitner is serving a 30-year prison sentence at Columbia’s Broad River Correctional Institution for a 2009 conviction for sexually assaulting a 6-year-old family member, according to a news release.
A woman who is now 20 years old came forward in January to tell Greenville police about sex assaults that happened in 2009, when she was 10 and 11 years old, according to the release. The victim and her mother met with detectives to report the assaults by Whitner, who is the mother’s ex-fiancee.
Police say the sex assaults happened between May 1, 2009, and Nov. 11, 2009, while Whitner was out of jail on bond for the charge of sexually assaulting the young family member, for which he is now incarcerated.
“For many years, the victim remained silent about the incidents,” the Greenville Police Department said in the release. “However, after receiving numerous, unwanted social media messages from Whitner, the victim felt compelled to come forward and report the crime.”
Whitner contacted the victim through a Facebook account, according to the arrest warrant.
The victim provided police investigators with messages from Whitner that substantiated the abuse, according to police. Greenville detectives notified the S.C. Department of Corrections and requested a search of Whitner’s cell, where they found a contraband cellphone.
Greenville police and Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling held a joint press conference earlier this month to outline how inmates are using contraband cellphones to continue their criminal enterprises from behind bars. A blackmail scheme by two inmates at Lee Correctional Institution resulted in the suicide of an Army veteran.
“This is one more example of how badly we need to pass legislation to allow us to jam cell phone signals,” Stirling said in the release. “Criminals go to prison and they are physically incarcerated, but they are virtually out amongst us.”
There have been at least two incidents since a deadly riot at Lee Correctional in which inmates have been able to get around a $1.5 million system that was intended to block cellphone signals.
Whitner was disciplined in 2015 for possessing or attempting to possess a cellphone, according to corrections records. He also was disciplined in February for possessing a weapon.
First-degree criminal sexual conduct carries up to 30 years in prison, under South Carolina law.