South Carolina

‘Scars that will last’: Chester police say sex abuse case is worst they’ve seen

Nine child victims endured months of sexual abuse, Chester police said.

Sarah Nicole Lacy, 34, and Bradley Mark Corlew, 31, are accused of criminal sexual conduct with minors from December 2018 through August, said Chester Police Department Chief Eric Williams. The children range in age from 2 to 11, police said.

Williams and Lt. Brian Sanders, the chief investigator in the case, each said the allegations of sex assault are the worst they’ve seen in their law enforcement careers.

“There is nothing I have seen before I can compare this with,” Sanders said Friday at a news conference in Chester. “I’ve been doing this for 15 years. Nothing else was ever like this.”

Williams said the children are safe and being cared for, but police have concerns about the effects of what happened to them at the house on Ella Street.

“This is disturbing, what happened to these children,” Williams said. “I worry that there will be scars that will last.”

Police declined to go into the details of the crimes against the children. However, Chester police are asking the State Law Enforcement Division and South Carolina Attorney General Internet Crimes Against Children task force to assist with the investigation.

The victims have been able to cooperate with the police investigation but details about their statements will not be released, Williams said.

Police also declined to say what other evidence has been recovered.

Police have not determined if there are other victims, Williams said.

Lacy told police in August she was the victim of a domestic violence, police said. Officers said the couple lived together at the home through August.

When police started investigating her claim, they determined the children were victims of multiple crimes, police said. The children were put in a safe environment shortly after the investigation began, Sanders said.

“Our priority from the first day was the welfare of these kids,” Sanders said.

Corlew and Lacy were arrested earlier this week and remain in jail without bond.

According to Chester County police and jail records, Lacy faces 16 counts of criminal sexual conduct. Carlew faces nine counts of criminal sexual conduct, jail records show.

More charges are expected that could rise to as many as 65 against each defendant, Williams said.

Sixth Circuit Solicitor Randy Newman, the top prosecutor for Chester, Lancaster and Fairfield counties, said Friday that his office has been working with law enforcement since the child sex allegations came to light.

“These allegations are extremely serious, involving child victims,” Newman said. “We have worked with law enforcement throughout the investigation and will continue to do so.”

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.