Suspects charged in reported rape at downtown Charleston party

Updated: Apr. 5, 2017 at 6:10 PM EDT
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James F. West III (Source: CCSO)
James F. West III (Source: CCSO)
Timothy Eli Seppi (Source: CCSO)
Timothy Eli Seppi (Source: CCSO)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston Police have charged two suspects in conjunction with a reported sexual assault that occurred in August in downtown Charleston.

Timothy Eli Seppi now faces a second-degree assault and battery charge while James Fashawn West III is charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis.

A Charleston police report states officers responded to MUSC on the night of Aug.27, 2016, and spoke to a doctor who said the victim had been sexually assaulted.

According to a new affidavit released by Charleston police, the alleged victim, a then-17-year-old College of Charleston student, was attending a party at an address on Ashley Avenue when she was approached by West and Seppi, also a College of Charleston student. The affidavit states Seppi and West encouraged the victim inside the residence and then force her to walk upstairs to a bedroom where she was forced to perform sex acts on West and take illegal drugs.

A rape kit confirmed a saliva sample taken from West matched DNA from the victim's underwear, an affidavit states. Police say detectives also found several photographs of the incident on Seppi's cell phone, as well as text messages.

According to a lawsuit filed by the former freshmen, the incident occurred at a "Bid Day" party hosted by the now defunct Chi Omicron chapter of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. The chapter's charter was revoked several days after the alleged assault.

West was previously charged in September for engaging a child for sexual performance, Francis said. He was released on a $15,000 surety bond, according to court records.

Seppi was originally arrested on Aug. 28 for possession of cocaine and simple possession of marijuana and was arrested on Sept. 2 for first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, court records indicate.

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