MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Chances are you've talked to your children about "stranger danger," but the truth of the matter is there's more to worry about.
According to data from the Durant Center in Florence, nine out of 10 victims are physically or sexually abused by someone they know and trust.
WMBF News Anchor Heather Biance uncovered brand new information in the case of a Darlington man who was accused of exposing himself and inappropriately touching five young children in broad daylight. She discovered this isn't his first offense, and he walked away a free man due to a growing problem for prosecutors.
The accusations still sting when Temeka thinks back to this summer when her cousin, Tyrone Montgomery, was charged with five counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and indecent exposure.
She exclusively spoke with WMBF News about what happened.
"He came to my home and I locked the gate, and he slipped through the side crack of my gate," she recalled. "He told the girls that they had bugs on their back. So he tried to touch their backs and then he said the bugs went to their butt. So he tried to touch their butts."
Temeka said it wasn't common for him to hang around.
"The first day that I noticed him, the red flags went up," she said. "The next day I noticed he came back again, I confronted the children and then confronted him."
According to the police report, Montgomery inappropriately touched the children on their buttocks and exposed himself to at least one of the five children.
Temeka went on: "It really hurts, especially when you know you work so hard to protect your child."
After forensic interviews with the kids, Montgomery was charged and sent to the Darlington County Detention Center, where he sits and waits for his time in court.
It wasn't until we started digging into his past that we discovered another indictment, dated June 10, 2009. At that time, Montgomery was charged with committing a lewd act and having forcible sex with a 14 year old girl.
Less than two years later, the case was thrown out, Montgomery walked away, and didn't have to register as a sex offender.
Heather Biance sat down with Fourth Circuit Solicitor, Will Rogers, and asked what happened.
"They hear about these cases that are dismissed and think how is that possible?" Heather asked. "How do you let this person go?"
Rogers answered: "Well I can assure you we don't dismiss cases because we want to, sometimes it has to be done."
Rogers says he and his prosecutors had their backs against the wall. The victim in the case moved away, leaving them with no witness to back up the evidence, something that happens all too often.
"It's really frustrating especially, if you know you have the evidence to put them behind bars, but you can't get in touch with the victim," explained Rogers.
The options were limited: move forward with the case and risk an acquittal or not guilty verdict. If that happens, Double Jeopardy comes into play, which means Tyrone couldn't be tried or charged with the same or similar crime in the future.
"Sometimes it's better to dismiss a case with legal restore until you can get everything lined up, find your witnesses and then you can put it back on," Rogers explained.
It's an emotional roller coaster that Family Advocate with the Durant Center Katy Brown sees first hand.
"You know a lot of times this is the most traumatic event that they've been through," Brown said, and she knows all too well that our justice system is flawed.
"By the time these cases get to court a lot of times, it's 12 to 18 months down the road, so when they get the call from the Solicitor's Office and are saying 'Why do I have to do this all over again?' We have to say this is one of the last steps," Brown explained. "It's not over when you're done with counseling."
Sitting in court, facing the person accused of stealing a child's innocence is no easy task. The moral of this story is if you don't take a stand, there's a good chance that person will walk free, possibly to harm again.
"I feel like he slipped through the cracks and I feel like I should be the one to stand up for all of the kids that he probably have done this too that never came forward," said Temeka.
Fourteen phone calls to the public defender's office, asking who has been appointed to represent Montgomery went unreturned.
The Darlington County Detention Center denied access to an interview, and phone calls to the numbers associated with his family's home address went unreturned as well.
Montgomery will appear in court Nov. 12 for a bond hearing.
WMBF News will be there and keep you posted as this case moves forward.
Make sure you check out our web exclusives in the sidebar above.
We know that having these discussions with your kids are not easy, so we're putting age-appropriate books and videos at your fingertips.
Additional resources and links Document: Tyrone Montgomery Indictment Documentation: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 YouTube: "Good Touch-Bad Touch: A video by The Puppetarians for young kids." Article: HOWMore>>
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