COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) - SC Attorney General Alan Wilson announced Friday that three men in the Upstate pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and now face time behind bars.
"Protecting our children from these predatory monsters is this office’s highest calling," Attorney General Wilson said. "Our investigators and prosecutors gave it their best to assure justice was served."
Following are the names of the men and the charges they pleaded guilty to:
Michael G. Strother was arrested by Greenville County deputies in April 2017. According Wilson, special investigators found a user requesting child pornography on a file-sharing network. Internet subscriber information lead to a search warrant being executed at Strother's residence, where he admitted to downloading child pornography. He pleaded guilty to 1st Degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
Wilson says Strother also admitted to recording an adult woman and an underage girl without their consent using hidden cameras. Forensic analysis of several devices seized from Strother's home revealed more than 14,000 files containing either child pornography or recordings of the woman and girl.
Strother received 15 years in prison on January 10, and will be required to register as a sex offender upon release.
Keith Louis Bennett pleaded guilty to five counts of 3rd Degree sexual exploitation of a minor. The Spartanburg County man was reported by his wife, who revealed to investigators she found more than 500 printed images of child pornography in his car and that he admitted to her the images belonged to him.
After verifying the images were indeed child pornography, fingerprints confirmed Bennett's possession of them, and an executed search warrant seized electronic devices, which yielded 80 more images of child pornography.
Bennett was sentenced to 10 years in prison on January 10, suspended to five years, and to be followed by five years of probation on all counts, to run concurrently. He forfeited his seized devices and will register as a sex offender upon release.
Jerry Blaxton, a former teacher at High Point Academy and a former youth minister, pleaded guilty to one count of 3rd Degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Like Strother, Blaxton was caught using digital tools; however, Blaxton provided files containing child pornography online through a file-sharing network. Investigators traced the source back to Blaxton's residence in Inman, and after a search warrant was executed, Blaxton admitted to investigators he was responsible for the files. Seized computers turned up 180 additional files containing child pornography.
Blaxton was sentenced on January 9 to five years in prison to be followed by five years of sex offender probation. Blaxton forfeited his equipment and will register as a sex offender upon release.
As of writing, mugshots for Blaxton and Strother had been posted online to Spartanburg County and Greenville County's websites, respectively.