Two former College of Charleston fraternity brothers implicated in the alleged rape of a minor at party in August were granted bail after surrendering to Charleston police Thursday morning.
James West III, 22, has been charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars.
West was given $75,000 bail during a bond hearing Thursday afternoon and ordered not to have contact with the victim.
His former fraternity brother, Timothy Seppi, also 22, has been charged with second-degree assault and battery, a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years in prison or a $2,500 fine.
Seppi was given $40,000 bail during the hearing and also ordered not to have contact with the victim.
Cameron Blazer, an attorney representing West, told the judge that a number of supporters were present in court on her client's behalf — about 15 people in all — and that the allegations against her client are not new.
West's supporters sat quietly through the hearing and did not issue any comments.
Since his original arrest in September, Blazer said, West has not had any issues with law enforcement or the court system.
"Mr. West has been extremely cooperative ... turning himself in the first time and turning himself in at the appointed hour this morning," she said.
David Aylor, an attorney representing Seppi, also emphasized that the charges against his client were not new, that Seppi's DNA was not found through a test of evidence and that his client has not had any issues with law enforcement or the court system since his original arrest in September.
"He's been out on bond for eight months," Aylor said. "He had no prior record before this situation came about and has been gainfully employed, been a resident in the Charleston County area as well as also attended school."
Ashley Standafer, a victims advocate, said she has been in contact with the victim and with her father.
The father told her that his daughter has been severely impacted by the incident, Standafer said. She has not been able to return to college.
West and Seppi were first arrested in September on different charges after Charleston police found sexually explicit photographs of the victim on Seppi's iPhone. One photograph showed the victim undressed and sitting on a bed with a naked male whom she identified to police as West.
West was charged with engaging a child for sexual performance. Seppi was charged with first- and third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, but those charges were dismissed after he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of voyeurism on March 23. He was sentenced to one year of probation under the state's Youthful Offender Act.
The new charges stem from the results of the victim's rape kit. According to their arrest affidavits, DNA from West's saliva matched the DNA found on the victim's clothing.
The victim was a 17-year-old College of Charleston freshman at the time of her alleged assault at an Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity party in August. Seppi and West were both members of the chapter.
According to C of C spokesman Mike Robertson, neither are currently enrolled as students.
Three days after the incident, Alpha Epsilon Pi’s headquarters revoked the chapter's charter and College President Glenn McConnell instituted an alcohol ban at all fraternity and sorority events.