DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A 24 year old man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for committing a lewd act on a 3 year old girl.
Solicitor Scarlett A. Wilson said that Kenneth Gahagan was convicted on Friday of committing a lewd act upon a minor. After two days of testimony, the jury deliberated for five hours before returning the guilty verdict.
In April of 2010, the young girl disclosed the sexual abuse to her father, who in turn, contacted the police. The child, now five years old, testified to the sexual abuse in the courtroom.
"I know these facts were difficult for the jury to hear but I am glad they were able to get through it and give the defendant a verdict he deserved," Wilson said.
According to court officials, Gahagan has a previous conviction from 2009 for unlawful conduct towards a child from an incident in Dorchester County.
"The previous conviction stemmed from a vaginal injury to another three-year-old child though the child did not have the developmental ability to testify as to how her injury occurred," Wilson said. "We will now submit our entire file, as well as information from Dorchester County, in an effort to have Mr. Gahagan deemed a "sexually violent predator" in hopes that he will be civilly committed until it is determined that he may be safely maintained in the community."
"This was a team effort. Everyone involved in the case from the child's family, the police, the medical and forensic team did a great job at protecting this child," Assistant Solicitor Elizabeth Gordon said."The little girl was very brave to tell her father, and she did an excellent job on the witness stand. It was obvious this little girl was telling the truth, and I am very pleased that the jury could see that."
Gahagan will be eligible for parole after serving approximately one-third of his sentence. A conviction for lewd act upon a minor child carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.