SPARTANBURG COUNTY, SC (FOX Carolina) A local minister arrested and charged with child sex crimes by the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office Wednesday has made his first appearance in bond court.
Deputies said that Phillip Jerard Buckson, 32, of Boiling Springs was arrested and charged with four counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor second degree.
Buckson, who was in bond court on Thursday morning was given a $20,000 cash security bond total, $5,000 for each of the four charges he faces. His next hearing will be on April 25.
Also announced on Thursday, the Gaffney Police Department placed a hold on Buckson for detectives to bring an additional charge against him for criminal sexual conduct second degree with the same minor, because the incident occurred in the city limits of Gaffney.
The investigation began on January 30 after a Spartanburg County investigator assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) received two cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Through their investigation, officials were able to identify and locate their victim. After speaking with the minor, she told them she was abused by Buckson beginning when she was just 13 years old.
Investigators said the young girl told them that the assaults began in October 2015 at Buckson's home in Cherokee County. Deputies say that through their encounters, the girl became pregnant twice. She says she underwent abortions to terminate both pregnancies, according to the incident report.
Four warrants were approved earlier Wednesday for Buckson's arrest. He was detained at his church- Cleveland Chapel Baptist. Deputies say he gave a full confession.
He was transported to the Spartanburg County Detention Facility at 4 p.m.
The investigation into the child pornography is ongoing. Deputies will also be working with Gaffney Police Department to discuss any offenses that may have occurred in their jurisdiction.
According to his biography on the Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church website, Buckson is a Gaffney native. He earned national recognition while playing basketball at Spartanburg Methodist College, according to the website and serves as one of the coordinators for the Cherokee County School Curriculum Counsel.
On Thursday evening, Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church issued a statement regarding Buckson's arrest:
Full text of the statement follows:
"We, the congregation of Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church are saddened by the recent news involving Pastor Phillip J. Buckson. This news has devestated the Cleveland Chapel community, and the Body of Christ. It is our duty as Christians not to condemn, but to pray for the person involved, and for Pastor Buckson. We ask for the prayers of the Spartanburg community and surrounding areas as CCBC goes through this current predicament."
Buckson was transported to the Cherokee County Detention Center on Thursday evening. Friday evening, he appeared in bond court for charges stemming from Gaffney, and had a $5,000 bond set there.
Buckson bonded out that evening. FOX Carolina captured him as he left the detention center. He did not provide comment.