Former Clover minister sexually assaulted girls since 1982, prosecutors said in court

A York County man who used to run a church and clean the Clover Police Department office was sentenced to 11 years in prison Monday for sexually assaulting girls for 35 years.

John Mackins 56, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature as part of a plea agreement. Several other charges were dismissed as part of the negotiated plea, said Sharon Ohayon, 16th Circuit assistant solicitor.

Three victims who spoke in court Monday said Mackins damaged their lives. The assaults happened to girls as young as elementary school age, according to prosecutors.

Mackins was described by three victims in court as a “manipulator,” a “sick person” and a “child molester.”

One woman, mother of two of the victims, said in court that Mackins was a “sick and cruel person who preyed on children.”

The Herald is not named the victims of sexual assaults.

Ohayon said Mackins deserves to go to prison.

“These victims have had a lifetime of dealing with his actions,” Ohayon said. “He’s been offending since 1982.”

Clover Police Department Lt. Mitch Wilson told the judge the victims were harmed from the 1980s until Mackins was arrested in December 2017.

“The pattern of behavior has not changed,” Wilson said. “I ask you for justice for these victims.”

Mackins denied the allegations made by multiple victims who spoke in court.

“I apologized and apologized and apologized,” Mackins said in court. “But it didn’t happen that way.”

Mackins’ lawyer, Jessica Russo of the York County Public Defender’s Office, said he has medical problems and has lived a productive life as a farmer, former custodian at Clover Police Department, and at a storefront church he ran with his late wife in Clover. Russo asked for probation with strict home detainment because he was not a threat to offend again.

Mackins’ son spoke on his behalf, saying his father was a “hard-working man, a family man, a church man.”

Mackins faced a maximum of 12 years in prison under the negotiated plea deal. Visiting Judge Paul Burch sentenced Mackins to 11 years.

Mackins also has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life after release as part of the plea deal, Ohayon said.

Related stories from Rock Hill Herald