Crime & Courts

Judge gives Lexington County neo-Nazi 50 years for child molestation

August Kreis
August Kreis / Lexington County Detention Center

Over a long career, August Kreis III has been a white supremacist, a fringe Christian minister, a hater of Jews, a neo-Nazi and a Ku Klux Klan leader.

On Thursday, in a Lexington County courtroom, he became something else: a convicted child molester.

After a three-day trial, a Lexington County jury found Kreis, 61, guilty of one count of criminal sexual conduct involving a minor child and two counts of committing lewd acts on a child. Three young women testified during the trial.

Later Thursday, Circuit Court Judge Douet “Jack” Earley gave Kreis 50 years in prison — meaning he almost certainly will die behind bars.

Kreis’s three counts of child molestation, involving repeated sexual abuse to two young girls between the ages of 10 and 14, could have been served concurrently — at the same time.

But Kreis told Early he wanted to stay in jail for life.

An obliging Early sentenced Kreis to two 15-year sentences and one 20-year sentence, all to run consecutively.

Kreis’s lawyer, public defender Tommy Shealy, had asked the judge for leniency.

During the trial, Kreis had displayed a sign to the jury saying “Vote for Donald Trump.” The judge instructed the jury to disregard the sign and focus on evidence.

Just before sentencing, one of Kreis’s child victims, now in her 20s, read a poem to Kreis in which she called him a “monster.” Abusers such as Kreis shatter the emotional lives of the young, leaving them scarred and living with lies, the woman said.

“Days turn into months, and months into years, and every night is full of this child’s worst fears,” the woman read. “Looking to the stars and wishing for a different life, this pain pierces through me like a jagged knife. ... Go through life watching behind me, and hold onto my heart with one hand. ... My soul cries at the mention of your name.”

Now, she said, she is a strong adult and can call him openly what he is. “Your disgusting little secret is out,” she said. “I hope you are haunted till the day you die for the things you’ve done,” she said.

The judge asked her for a copy of the poem. “You are a brave young lady,” he told her. Abusers such as Kreis typically rely on the shame of their victims to keep their sex crimes secret, sex experts say.

Prosecutor Suzanne Mayes of the 11th Circuit Solicitor’s office said Kreis’s abuse of children was “psychological warfare.”

Just before sentencing, Kreis declared, “I will always hate the Jew. This government is run by an evil group of people, and please — vote for Trump!”

The sentence caps a long career of extremism for Kreis, who has a Confederate flag on his Facebook page, a lengthy record of tangling with the law and advocating violence against the government and non-white ethnic groups.

In 2011, Kreis pleaded guilty to pension fraud in federal court in Columbia for falsely claiming he had no income. He served six months in prison for that offense.

A recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremists, described Kreis as a Klan member and “a hot-tempered, longtime white supremacist and Christian Identity minister ... (He) once headed one of a handful of competing splinter factions of the once-mighty Aryan Nations. Kreis has fervently advocated the mass murder of Jews, non-whites and ‘race traitors.’ 

Kreis was arrested in 2014 on the Lexington County child molestation charges. He is in a wheelchair, having lost both legs to diabetes.