Crime

Rock Hill man faces 4th child sex charge after new victim comes forward

A Rock Hill man charged last week with sexually abusing a boy he reportedly met at a Charlotte church is accused of molesting a second teenage boy.

Investigators on Wednesday charged Jacob Allen Smith, 24, with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, according to an arrest warrant. Smith was arrested last week on three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

The warrant states Smith engaged in a sex act with the boy, who was 13 years old at the time, at Smith’s Rock Hill home last summer. Municipal Judge Kesha Simpkins, who denied bond for Smith last week, said again Wednesday he must remain jailed at the Moss Justice Center in York.

“He has a very manipulative character,” the victim’s mother said during Wednesday’s bond hearing. “He has integrated himself into our family for three years. ... He pretends to be a spiritual person and hides behind his church.”

The victim’s mother said Smith is also involved with a Charlotte athletic association and “brags” about having $20,000 in a bank account. Smith, appearing on closed circuit TV, looked down during most of the hearing, biting his nails or picking at his orange jailhouse shirt.

“There’s dozens of families that he has integrated his life into with young boys, housesits for their animals, babysits their children overnight, weekends, days upon end when their parents are out of town,” the victim’s mother said. “It’s not a safe thing for him to be out and have access to this amount of money to maneuver children, to manipulate their minds and their eyes to what they want to get what he wants, which is disgusting.”

The second victim, now 14, was “just getting to the point of being extremely healthy” two years after his grandfather’s death, his mother said.

“And then Jacob preyed on him,” she said. “That’s how well thought-out and how planned his mind and actions are.”

Detectives said last week Smith met the first victim while in a mentor position at Steele Creek Church of Charlotte. Church officials told The Herald Smith worked in a security capacity at the church on Sunday mornings and that he neither mentored children nor was he left alone with anyone in that position.

Smith has no prior criminal record, according to South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division, and the Charlotte church’s executive pastor said a screening Smith underwent in 2012 before he started working for the church revealed “no red flags.”

Smith served as a volunteer coach for the city of Rock Hill’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism youth sports baseball program during the spring 2015 season, a city official confirmed last week. He passed the city’s mandatory background check before his service; however, he can no longer serve in that capacity due to the investigation.

The circumstances under which Smith came to be in contact with the second victim are unclear. A Rock Hill Police Department spokesman said the second victim came forward after Smith’s arrest last week.

“He has exhibited a similar pattern across both victims, being deeply ingrained in the family and trusted,” Rock Hill police Detective Brooks Felmet said during Wednesday’s hearing. “... We’re not certain how many further there could be. We know of several others that he had close access to that we, so far, haven’t heard from.”

Teddy Kulmala: 803-329-4082, @teddy_kulmala

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