There was no trial Thursday at the Moss Justice Center courthouse. Just a bond hearing for a man accused of terrible crimes who says the claims of a teenaged girl are bogus and a lie, and he wants out of jail to have the chance to defend himself in court.
He has that right, and he is presumed innocent.
However, Judge J. Derham Cole ruled Friday morning that Taiwan Carter, 36, one of three men accused of rape and kidnapping, is a potential flight risk and a potential danger to the community and denied him bond. Carter will remain in jail until trial, unless it takes more than six months then he can ask again.
But the allegations made by prosecutors remain. The allegations that a foster child was walking and jogging, then kidnapped and raped by three men, strangers, and dumped like dirty laundry on the street – are among the most terrifying alleged crimes ever heard in that courtroom.
Sharon Kopp, a 16th Circuit assistant solicitor, recited the police and prosecution version of the case. The courtroom of visiting Circuit Court Judge J. Derham Cole from Spartanburg was dead silent.
The victim, living in a foster home, was out for her usual walk and run on a street in Rock Hill around 6:30 p.m. June 12, Kopp said. A car passed her, then stopped. Three men grabbed the girl, Kopp said, and forced her into the car.
“They told her if she tried to scream, they would snap her neck,” Kopp told Judge Cole. “They told her if she resisted, they would kill her.”
The men allegedly took the girl to an apartment on Black Street in Rock Hill that belonged to the man in court Thursday, Carter. The men told her they would do things to her better than anyone else, the girl told police. They told her they wanted to make movies of what they would do.
The men then received a phone call from a woman saying she was coming over, Kopp said, so the men took the girl from the apartment to a shed on another property. She was held on a chair in the filthy shed, forced to take off her pants, and then raped, Kopp told the judge.
She was forced to perform sex acts as the others watched, Kopp said.
The girl told police the men left a note with two of their phone numbers in her brassiere and said they hoped to “do it again sometime,” Kopp said
The girl was then pushed out of a car in a church parking lot, Kopp said. The next day the girl reported the assault to her foster parents. Police had a sexual assault kit done, Kopp said.
Carter, standing accused Thursday of first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping and conspiracy, in jail without bond since his June 14 arrest, lived at the apartment that the girl said was the first place she was taken. Police went to see him soon after the allegations were made.
First, Kopp said, Carter lied and gave a phony alibi of his whereabouts, then changed his story to say the incident was consensual.
Kopp told the judge she believes bond should remain denied to Carter, because of the terrifying nature of the crime. The victim picked Carter out of a photo lineup, Kopp said.
“The victim is very scared,” Kopp said. “She fears this is going to happen again. Three males abducted her off the street.”
Carter is a flight risk and a danger to the community, Kopp said.
Carter said nothing in court, but his lawyer, Montrio Belton, said Carter “remains adamant that he is not guilty.”
“He wants his day in court,” Belton said. “There is another side to the story.”
Carter acknowledges that the allegations are “very serious,” Belton said, but “he denies it happened as the alleged victim said it did.”
Carter is not a flight risk and has no violent history, Belton said, with only a conviction for a weapon violation.
The second man accused, Michael Antwan White, 38, did not appear in court Thursday.
White is a convicted felon who has spent stretches in prison for dealing drugs, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, domestic violence and other crimes, state records show. White remains in the York County jail without bond on the same rape, kidnapping and conspiracy charges Carter faces. White also stands accused of dealing cocaine and other drug charges from April and May in warrants served after he was arrested for the sex crimes.
The third man, prosecutors said, has never been caught. When the victim was with police, she saw the man on the street, but he ran from officers and has never been arrested.
The alleged victim was in court Thursday. She did not speak. She sat between Ryan Thomas, the police detective who arrested Carter, and a victim advocate.
After the hearing, Carter went back to jail. The alleged victim, just a teenager, walked out between the cop and the advocate – the people the judicial system pay to protect her. Kopp, the prosecutor, was right behind them.
But the allegations – that a teenaged girl out for a walk and run was abducted and gang raped and thrown away like trash with threats that she would be tortured and killed – remain.