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On a winter evening in 2015, a 10-year-old South Carolina girl was watching television cartoons in her bedroom when her mother’s then-boyfriend snuck in, crawled into bed with her, and proceeded to rape — and impregnate her.
On Wednesday, circuit court Judge Carmen T. Mullen in Hampton County sentenced Tony Singleton, 37, to life in prison for first-degree criminal sexual assault on a minor under the age of 11.
“Life in South Carolina means life,” 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office prosecutor Hunter Swanson told Oxygen.com over the telephone.
“That’s the sentence that I wanted, that’s the sentence the family wanted, and certainly the judge made the right call sentencing him to life,” she added. “I don’t think having someone on the streets who would prey on a 10-year-old should be trusted in society.”
Prosecutors had called on 10 witnesses over the course of the two-day trial. The jury reached its verdict after only 51 minutes of deliberation, according to a 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office news release.
At around 8 p.m. on a November evening in 2015, the 10-year-old told police a man known to her mother entered her room in Estill, S.C., while she was watching the popular cartoon "SpongeBob Squarepants."
“Tony Singleton did roll the victim on to her backside and removed her underwear then proceeded to have vaginal intercourse with the 10-year-old juvenile female,” an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com stated. “[He] turned off the lights and the television, then forced her to have intercourse.”
The girl revealed what happened to her after she became pregnant and her mother had to take her to get an abortion.
A DNA sample taken from the girl’s fetus reportedly matched Singleton as the father.
Swanson, who oversees the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office Special Victims Unit, and who has spent her entire career prosecuting sexual assault and domestic violence cases, said she was “horrified and so disturbed” by the case.
“It’s the rape of a child who is in her own home where she should feel safe,” she explained. “It doesn’t get much worse than this. She was doing what a child does she was in her room — she was watching cartoons. This is a child. Nobody expects their 10-year-old to be pregnant.”
Swanson said that the 10-year-old girl, who has not been named, has been in good spirits since the incident. Swanson added that the girl, now a teenager, loves sports, and noted that her grades “never slipped throughout all of this.”
“[She] should be getting ready to go back to school, making friends, braiding her hair — things other girls her age typically are engaged in,” Swanson also stated in the news release.
“Instead, she’s in a courtroom, reliving a horrific ordeal.”
Singleton had a criminal history that included drug crimes, and traffic-related offenses.
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