Twelve-year-old twins accused of assault on a Rock Hill woman in connection to an alleged sexual assault by a third child in April were released Tuesday into the custody of their grandmother.
The twins, who had been detained in a juvenile home since their arrest April 29, must be monitored by an adult 24 hours a day at the Blackville home of their maternal grandmother, Family Court Judge Robert Guess of Union ruled after a court hearing.
The state Department of Juvenile Justice must institute a system of checks to make sure the boys are always home with adult supervision before the case is resolved in court, the judge ordered.
Testimony last week – in a hearing after which the boys were kept in custody – showed they admitted to police that at about 2 a.m. April 28, they had “snuck out” of their apartment near where the alleged assault took place. One parent was asleep at the time while the other was at work, testimony showed.
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A third defendant, 13, is charged with criminal sexual conduct.
A 19-year-old woman told police the 13-year-old, a neighbor at a north Rock Hill apartment complex, sexually assaulted her after asking for a light for candles. The 13-year-old, whom testimony has shown was home alone at the time of the attack, allegedly claimed the apartment he lived in with his family had no lights.
He remains jailed in juvenile detention.
Because of the age of the defendants, The Herald is not publishing their names.
Initially, one of the lawyers for the twins, Geoff Dunn, asked that the boys be sent home to stay with their parents, pending trial.
“All of them understand the seriousness of the charges,” Dunn said. “They have cooperated from the beginning.”
But Rock Hill Police Detective Toshia Smith, who arrested all three young defendants, objected to the children being released to their parents’ home in Rock Hill.
Juvenile prosecutor Whitney Payne, citing the seriousness of the charges and the closeness of the 12-year-olds’ home to where the victim lives, asked the judge to keep the children in a juvenile home.
Probable cause has been found for prosecutors to go forward with charges against all three defendants, but no trial date has been set in the case. The lawyer for the 13-year-old defendant was in court today but declined comment on the sexual assault charges or the allegations by the twins to police that the 13-year-old committed the sexual assault.
Before the hearing last week, juvenile prosecutors reduced the charges of criminal sexual conduct against the twins to assault and battery. Both children gave detailed statements to police, earlier testimony showed, which claimed the older, larger, 13-year-old defendant assaulted the woman sexually.
Previous testimony showed the 12-year-olds allegedly helped the victim after what started as “wrestling” turned into alleged forcible sex by the 13-year-old, but police and the victim allege the 12-year-olds were initially laughing and at least one of them locked the victim inside the apartment.
The 12-year-olds, less than 5 feet tall and 75 pounds each, were expelled from school after the criminal charges were filed, testimony showed Tuesday.