HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A man charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor has been sentenced to spend seven years behind bars.
The Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office reports that 25-year-old Danny Dewayne Hardee was a primary suspect after a 12-year-old girl disappeared from her Conway home on June 28, 2011.
An investigation revealed that Hardee helped the preteen run away from home, and engaged in "an illegal sexual relationship." The girl was found the next day near Highway 22 and Robert Edge Parkway with Danny Hardee.
Hardee pleaded guilty to criminal sexual with a minor on June 20, 2013 and was sentenced to serve seven years in prison followed by three years of probation. He is not eligible for parole until he has served 85 percent of the sentence.
He will also be added to the South Carolina and National Sex Offender Registry.
The Horry County Police Department discovered the bike of the missing 12-year-old but continued to search all of Horry County until she was found. Lt. Jamie DeBari with Horry County Police says the little girl was immediately taken into protective custody after she was located on the afternoon of June 29, 2011.
In addition to Danny Hardee's arrest, a relative of the 12-year-old girl reported missing was charged with prostitution of a child, according to the Horry County Police Department.
Sgt. Robert Kegler with the Horry County Police Department said a biological relative of the girl, Robbie Jean Blankenship was arrested and charged with unlawful neglect of a child and promotion or participation of prostitution of a minor.
Chad Michael Jacobs and Clarence Davis Jr. of Conway were also charged with accessory after the fact. Police believed they were friends of Hardee and had knowledge of his whereabouts as well as the girl's, which they withheld from officers.
When speaking with WMBF News after the preteen ran away, family members of the little girl, including Robbie Jean, voiced concerns the young girl may be with a former neighbor - an older male that they believed had some type of relationship with the girl.
"Thank God she's safe. I thank everybody that's been out there trying to help find her. You don't know what it's like to have a mess like this," said Geraldine Harris, the juvenile's grandmother and legal guardian.