Crime & Courts

Deputy faces sex assault charges

MYRTLE BEACH -- A Georgetown County Sheriff's deputy who has been fired is facing charges of sexual assault on a 13-year-old girl who was in his care, according to arrest warrants.

Agents from the State Law Enforcement Division charged Ron Christopher Crabtree, 35, of Georgetown, with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and a lewd act on a minor.

Crabtree was terminated during an investigation last month by the Sheriff's Office after the allegations surfaced, said Sgt. Neil Johnson, public affairs officer with the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office.

He said Crabtree was arrested at the Sheriff's Office, where he turned himself in Tuesday.

He was taken by SLED agents from there to the Georgetown County Detention Center, where he was being held late Tuesday.

Johnson said SLED has taken over the investigation at the request of the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office.

Crabtree worked with the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office for 2½ years as a uniform patrol officer, Johnson said.

Sheriff's deputies began investigating on Feb. 2 after Ohio authorities contacted the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office about the sexual assault allegations against Crabtree, Johnson said.

He said the victim reported the allegations to the Ohio authorities but Georgetown County officials were contacted because the alleged assault occurred in Pawleys Island, Johnson said.

An arrest warrant says Crabtree had intercourse with a 13-year-old girl inside a Pawleys Island home between March 1 and June 30, 2007.

Another warrant says Crabtree digitally penetrated the same girl on several occasions inside a Pawleys Island home between Oct. 1, 2006, and June 30, 2007, according to Jennifer Timmons, communications director with the S.C. Law Enforcement Division.

Johnson said deputies in the Sheriff's Office were shocked to learn of the charges against Crabtree.

"This was not a call that you expect to receive about one of your own," Johnson said Tuesday.

"Law enforcement officers are supposed to set an example. Disappointment set in today when we got the call from SLED that charges would be brought against Crabtree.

"Sheriff [Lane] Cribb believes that it doesn't matter who you are, law enforcement officer or citizen, the law applies to all and he doesn't tolerate this type of behavior."

He said Cribb requested that SLED assist in the investigation.

Both charges against Crabtree are felonies. Second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor carries a possible sentence up to 20 years in prison, and lewd act on a minor carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and/or fines.

-- The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News