Police say convicted sex offender schemed to target victims - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Police say convicted sex offender schemed to target victims

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Harold Ayton (Source: SC Dept. of Corrections) Harold Ayton (Source: SC Dept. of Corrections)
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Police investigators say 32-year-old Harold Ayton has a history of sexually assaulting little girls. His Florida rap sheet says he started when he was 14.

Last week he pleaded guilty to raping a six-year-old Newberry County girl in 2010.

"Mr. Ayton liked to go to the subsidized and public housing in low rent areas, become friendly with women with young girls," said Columbia Police Investigator Stephan Narewski. "And then he would tell the young ladies, 'Go out with your friends. I will watch the girl.'"

Investigators said he would bounce around to different single mothers, sometimes using social media to meet them. Then he'd manipulate them and their young daughters.

Narewski says Ayton targeted girls between four and seven years old.

"Mr. Ayton in particular carried a backpack that was loaded with condoms and individual packets of personal lubricant," said Narewski. "But to my understanding from talking with different people, he never used it with the adult he was in the relationship with."

Investigators believe there are more victims in other counties.

In the Newberry case, detectives say Ayton recorded two sex acts involving the rape of a little girl on his cell phone.

That phone was found abandoned in North Columbia. But it was later traced back to him where investigators say it's clear Ayton molested the victim multiple times.

The technology brought in the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

"We deal with any technology-facilitated crime against a child," said Senior Assistant Attorney General Deborah Shupe.

Shupe said they routinely investigate cyber tips and try to curb child pornography.

"We've had bank executives arrested," she said. "We've had pastors. We've had some from almost every facet of life."

Shupe said the different facets have one thing in common: perversion.

What she sees on a regular basis will shock you. Many of the images are forever burned into her memory.

"I've seen children being molested sexually in the back of a station wagon in a parking lot," she said. "I've seen infants being molested laying on a bed. I've seen little children degraded by being forced to undress and engage in sex acts with other children while adults stood around and encouraged."

As far as they know, Ayton's video has not circulated online. But the damage has already been done.

"This was a six or seven-year-old girl," said Shupe. "She had an adult that evidently she trusted. He was able to convince her this was okay."

Attorney General Alan Wilson said education of parents and children is the best defense.

"We can pass laws and we can put teeth in laws and we can vigorously investigate and prosecute but an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure," he said.

Ayton will spend at least the next 40 years in prison for the Newberry County conviction.

Ayton is a registered sex offender in at least two states.

If your child may be a victim or you know someone who may be a victim, call your local law enforcement agency.

SC Internet Crime Against Children Task Force

SC Internet Crime Against Children Task Force Facebook

Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands

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