South Carolina v. DurantAnnotate this Case
Appellant Larry Durant was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) for sexually abusing a teenage girl in his church office where he served as the pastor. Durant contended the trial court improperly permitted the State to introduce evidence of prior sexual abuse allegations as evidence of a common scheme or plan under Rule 404(b), SCRE, and that the State committed a "Brady" violation by failing to accurately disclose the criminal history of its witness. After review, the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the admissibility of the girls' testimony. "[W]hile the State failed to disclose the criminal background information of its witness, we find this information was not material." The Court found Durant exercised his position of trust, authority, and spiritual leadership to hold private prayer meetings with teen girls who had grown up in his church. He told them he was praying for their health and good fortune, and represented that part of this process was touching them sexually and having intercourse. Durant then warned the girls of misfortune if they refused or told anyone. Moreover, he used scripture as a means of grooming the children into performing sex acts. "These facts demonstrate the requisite logical connection between the prior acts of sexual abuse and the one forming the basis of the crime charged." The Court therefore affirmed Durant's conviction.