Evangelical ministry worker, substitute teacher accused of molesting boys - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Evangelical ministry worker, substitute teacher accused of molesting boys

Eric Nelson Vancleave (Source: LCSD) Eric Nelson Vancleave (Source: LCSD)

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A former member of a Cayce evangelical Christian ministry and substitute teacher is accused of molesting four boys on camping trips and at his home. Investigators think there may be more victims.

Eric Nelson Vancleave, 32, of West Columbia, faces 16 criminal charges in relation to the sexual abuse, which Sheriff James Metts says happened from 2000 to 2007. U.S. Marshals arrested Vancleave around 5:30pm Friday at a West Columbia drug store as he was buying cold medicine.

According to arrest warrants, in 2003 and 2004 Vancleave performed sexual acts on a boy under the age of 15. Metts said the abuse happened while Vancleave took the boy and other boys on camping trips at the Barnyard RV Park near West Columbia.

Metts says Vancleave is a camping enthusiast, and that is how he lures his victims.

Cayce Public Safety Department Director Charles E. McNair said Vancleave also abused four boys between the ages of 10 and 17 at his former home in Cayce. Vancleave is accused of performing sexual acts on the four boys and inappropriately touching their private parts.

Allegations that Vancleave sexually abused the four boys were initially reported on February 2, McNair said. The Cayce Department of Public Safety, Lexington County Sheriff's Department and SLED began conducting a joint investigation of the allegations.

Vancleave met and befriended the four boys while a member of Pavilion Ministries, an evangelical church in Cayce, Metts said. Vancleave did not maintain contact with the four boys after he moved from Cayce to West Columbia in 2007, and is no longer is a member of Pavilion Ministries.

Vancleave is charged in Lexington County with four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a child and two counts of committing a lewd act upon a child. He is charged in Cayce with six counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a child, three counts of committing a lewd act upon a child and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

SLED Director Reginald I. Lloyd said agents are also investigating allegations that Vancleave might have sexually abused one of more of the four boys during camping trips at a state park in Barnwell County.

Vancleave was being held at the Lexington County Detention Center and was denied bond on Saturday afternoon.

Detectives think Vancleave might have sexually abused additional boys, Metts said. The sheriff asked anyone with information about additional incidents in which Vancleave interacted inappropriately with children to call CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

Lexington County School District Two employed Vancleave as a substitute teacher at elementary schools and in an after-school program at Brookland-Cayce Grammar School.

Assistant Superintendent Jim Hinton said Vancleave has been suspended per district policy, and the district is fully cooperating with the investigation.

Hinton said any parents with questions or concerns should contact the sheriff's department, and the district will issue a press release on Tuesday.

Vancleave is married but does not have any children. Metts said Vancleave's wife was surprised by the allegations.

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