An Upstate couple pleaded guilty in court Wednesday in connection with a sexual abuse and neglect case involving several children.
Solicitor Barry Barnette said Steven Whitley, 43, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and four counts of unlawful conduct toward a child while his wife Rebecca Kingsley, 47, pleaded guilty to four counts of unlawful conduct toward a child and accessory after the fact of a felony.
An investigation began in 2010 after a Department of Social Services workers discovered the couple's Spartanburg County home was flea infested, with holes in the floor, spoiled food scattered across kitchen counters and there was no refrigerator or stove in the home.
The investigation involved several children, with one as young as 4, Barnette said. Investigators said the victims shared multiple stories of physical and verbal abuse during a five-year period, including one incident where a young girl was sexually assaulted while tied to a bed.
Barnette said Whitley failed a lie detector test, saying the victim initiated the sexual encounter. In all, investigators said Whitley abused four children.
Whitley was sentenced to 20 years in prison and Kingsley was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
"I'm thankful the cases were resolved without exposing the kids to the stress of having to testify at trial," Assistant Solicitor Amy Goulding said. "They have endured enough."
One victim appeared in court during Kingsley's hearing and told the judge they were making good progress in their recovery.
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