A witness told investigators that a Chapin High School football player knew a girl was only 13 years old before they had sex in October, according to a Richland County Sheriff’s Department document obtained by The State.
The player, David Bennett Galloway III, told authorities through his lawyer he did not know the girl’s age. Galloway, 18 at the time of the encounter, had been charged in November with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, a felony. Earlier this week, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of third-degree assault and battery and being a minor in possession of alcohol, both misdemeanors.
The document obtained by The State disputes statements by Galloway’s defense, who concluded Galloway did not know the girl’s age. The 5th Circuit Solictor’s Office, which prosecuted the case, has maintained that Galloway knew the girl’s age.
Galloway’s lawyer, Jim May, said a more in-depth investigation proved the football player did not know the victim’s age.
The document acquired by The State is a transcript of the sworn statement of a friend of the victim who was with her on the night of the incident. The statement was made to a Richland County investigator.
The transcript describes a moment on Oct. 2 when the victim and her friend met Galloway outside of a home. He asked the group of girls how old they were. They all answered by saying what grade they were in. The witness told the investigator that the victim told Galloway she was “13 about to be 14” and an 8th grader, according to the document.
The witness said Galloway misled the girls about his grade, according to the document. When asked by the investigator if Galloway ever lied about his age on the night of the assault, the witness said that after Galloway asked their ages, he told them to guess his age. After they guessed, he told them he was a high school sophomore. High school sophomores are typically between 15 and 17 years old.
Galloway, a senior, was one of South Carolina’s best high school football players last fall. He had committed to play for N.C. State.
The document raises questions about whether Galloway should have been allowed to plea to the lesser charges.
Galloway pleaded guilty to the lesser offenses at a court hearing Thursday. He pleaded specifically to “unlawful touching” of the 13-year-old. Circuit Court Judge Casey Manning oversaw the hearing and accepted the plea. Galloway received no up-front jail time. But if he breaks the stipulations of the plea deal, which includes hundreds of hours of community service, required counseling and paying the victim $15,000 for her own counseling, he could go to jail for 60 days.
At the courthouse, May said that Galloway passed a lie detector test when asked if he knew the girl’s age.
Aside from knowledge of the victim’s age, the rest of what unfolded that night was agreed on by Galloway as outlined by Deputy Solicitor Dan Goldberg.
On Oct. 2, Galloway was at a party at a relative’s house with other high school students, Goldberg said.
He was drinking, and when the victim approached him, he offered her alcohol. She said she didn’t want any.
They went into the upstairs of the house and had a sexual encounter that was stopped by another person. Later that night, Galloway and the victim met up again and had sex, according to Goldberg.
The prosecutor described the sex as consensual, saying the victim never indicated she did not want to have sex.
Goldberg told the court that the plea deal to the lesser charges was agreed on by the victim’s family, the sheriff’s department, the prosecution and Galloway.
What Galloway’s lawyer said
When asked Friday evening about the statement from the victim’s friend, May reiterated that Galloway passed a lie detector test administered by a former FBI agent. During the test, Galloway was asked specifically if he knew the victim’s age before the incident. He answered no, and the polygraph found no evidence of lying, May said.
“Our investigation in which we interviewed a substantial number of people did not support those facts,” May said when asked about the document that said Galloway knew the girl’s age and lied about his own age.
Further, May told The State he would not have represented Galloway if it he hadn’t passed the lie detector test when asked if he knew the victim’s age.
Galloway found out the girl’s age the day after they had sex and he was “embarrassed, shock and horrified,” May said.
What the prosecutor said
The 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office provided The State with a lengthy statement Friday evening concerning the information in the document and Galloway’s plea deal.
“The decision to allow Mr. Galloway to plead guilty to lesser charges was not based upon a lack of evidence to prove him guilty of criminal sexual conduct with a minor,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg upheld the witness’ statements in the document.
“After extensive discussions with the victim, her family, their attorney, and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, my office determined that a guilty plea to reduced charges was appropriate,” Goldberg said.
Prosecutors would not have reduced the charges without the “full agreement” of everyone involved, especially the victim and her family, he said.
“Ultimately, no amount of spin from his attorney or anyone else can change Mr. Galloway’s guilt as it relates to his assault of a 13 year old little girl,” Goldberg said.
What is the actual law?
In the South Carolina code of law, the statute for second-degree criminal sexual conduct reads:
“A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the second degree if:
“The actor engages in sexual battery with a victim who is fourteen years of age or less but who is at least eleven years of age; or
“The actor engages in sexual battery with a victim who is at least fourteen years of age but who is less than sixteen years of age and the actor is in a position of familial, custodial, or official authority to coerce the victim to submit or is older than the victim. However, a person may not be convicted of a violation of the provisions of this item if he is eighteen years of age or less when he engages in consensual sexual conduct with another person who is at least fourteen years of age.”
Second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor is punishable with up to 20 years in prison.
The statute for third-degree assault and battery reads:
“A person commits the offense of assault and battery in the third degree if the person unlawfully injures another person, or offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so.”
Third-degree assault and battery is punishable with up to a $500 fine, 30 days in jail or both.