Two Graniteville men pleaded guilty Wednesday for harboring a runaway teen in 2018 who was announced missing by law enforcement.
Bradford Geter and Shakier Wells, both 23 and from Graniteville, pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
On May 13, 2018, deputies met with a man who reported his 15-year-old daughter had run away from home.
He told investigators he had not seen her or had any contact with her since May 11, and was unsure of where she could have gone, according to police reports.
Law enforcement posted several notices on Facebook and made a report with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division stating she was a missing child, Second Circuit Prosecutor Ashley Hammack said Wednesday.
Law enforcement spoke with both Geter and Wells about the victim being missing but neither cooperated with authorities despite the victim living with them at the time, Hammack said.
"They knew she was missing," Hammack said. "They did not inform law enforcement and they continued to harbor her after law enforcement told them that she ran away from home and that they were looking for her and she needed to return home."
Geter's legal representative told the court he was not aware the victim was underage.
Once he learned the victim's age, Geter began cooperating with law enforcement, his attorney said.
The victim's father, who was present during the hearing held via Zoom video conferencing, told the court his daughter was deemed missing for "26 grueling days."
“My family’s lives in an entirety have been altered by this situation and there still is yet myriad of emotions that we feel will last a lifetime," the victim's father said. "The scars that our daughter has to bear will forever follow her. It’s forever etched deeply into consciousness."
The victim's father continued to say he hoped both Geter and Wells would understand their "failings and wrongdoings."
"We pray that this situation will never happen again," the victim's father said.
Both Geter and Wells were sentenced under the Youthful Offender Act to two years of parole with random drug and alcohol testing.
The act offers an alternative option for offenders between the ages of 17 and 25 convicted of certain nonviolent crimes in South Carolina.
The goal of the Youthful Offender Act is to rehabilitate younger offenders.
Geter and Wells did not have criminal records prior to pleading guilty in this case, Hammack said.