Father Convicted by Richland Jury of Sexually Assaulting Daughters

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December 7, 2023

William Benton Oswald, 62, a Lexington County resident, was convicted by a Richland County jury on Friday, December 1, 2023, of three counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct of a Minor First Degree for sexually assaulting his two daughters over a period of time beginning in the early 1990s and continuing on thru the early 2000s. The Honorable Eugene Griffith presided over the trial and sentenced Oswald to twenty (20) years in prison for the assaults against each daughter, to run consecutive to one another, for a total sentence of forty (40) years in the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

Throughout the early childhood years of his daughters, Oswald repeatedly molested the two young girls. As a pastor and influential member of the communities he claimed to serve, the defendant was able to hide these heinous acts from the public for many years. Over the course of the five-day trial, jurors heard testimony from the Defendant’s now adult children about the multiple acts of molestation and abuse they were forced to endure at their father’s hand. The women went on to share how the trauma they experienced as children, as well as the trauma they still bear today, has impacted not only their lives, but the lives of their family and friends as well. Additionally, expert testimony was offered to educate the jury on the dynamics of child sexual assault cases so as to give them a better understanding of how it would be possible for Oswald to conceal his actions for so many years. As with most cases like this one, where the children were unable to come forward with the allegations until many years later, there was very little forensic evidence linking the Defendant to these crimes. Thus, the jury had to rely almost exclusively on
the testimony of the parties themselves. In this case, despite the Defendant’s hours long testimony proclaiming his innocence, the jury ultimately found him guilty of all charges.

The Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, represented by Assistant Solicitors Theresa Johns and Allison Foster, prosecuted the case. The investigation was conducted by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

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