Columbia Man Found Guilty of Sexually Assaulting College Student

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July 24, 2023

Columbia — Robert Drayton, 41, was convicted of Burglary 1st Degree, Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st degree, and Kidnapping by a Richland County jury on Thursday, July 20, 2023 for the violent, sexual assault of a female USC college student. Circuit Court Judge Heath Taylor presided over the four-day trial and sentenced Drayton to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In the early morning hours of April 28, 2021, at approximately 4:00 a.m., the defendant broke into the victim’s apartment, who did not know the defendant, and physically assaulted her by breaking her nose and strangling her. He then proceeded to sexually assault the victim as she continued to bleed from his physical assault. This brave, young woman was able to fight off the defendant after a 20-minute assault and run to safety.

As law enforcement began investigating this brutal assault, they uncovered video surveillance from the victim’s apartment complex capturing the defendant jumping a fence to enter the victim’s patio area and then running from the scene of the crime. Based on that video surveillance, the defendant was developed as a suspect and a witness identified him as the individual seen by utilizing Crimestoppers. Upon arrest, the defendant was wearing the shoes seen on the video surveillance and matching shoe prints left at the scene. He ultimately admitted to being the individual seen on the surveillance video. Additionally, the defendant’s DNA was found in multiple places of the victim’s body corroborating the sexual assault that she endured at the hands of the defendant.

Assistant Solicitor Anna Browder handled the trial of this case, along with Assistant Solicitor Stephanie Taylor and Senior Assistant Solicitor Dale Scott. The investigation was conducted by the City of Columbia Police Department and forensic DNA analysis was conducted by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

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