HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Anthony Strickland said the day an officer told him he was charged with engaging in sex acts with two four-year-olds, he laughed.
“I thought it was a joke. It wasn’t a joke, it was a nightmare,” Strickland said.
Back in 2016, Strickland, along with Lindsey Honeycutt, Ambrose Heavener and Panteleimon Spirakis, were arrested on several charges including criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first-degree and sexual exploitation of a minor in the first-degree.
The two victims, who were four years old at the time, disclosed during a trauma-focused therapy session that Honeycutt and Heavener forced them to have sex with their siblings and each other. The victims also disclosed that Honeycutt and Heavener would have sex with them, and the female victim was forced to have sex with Spirakis.
The victims also revealed that one of the locations where the sexual assaults occurred was at Chez Joey, where Honeycutt worked as a dancer and Strickland was a manager.
Strickland said that he only knew of Honeycutt and didn’t know the other two men and said he was guilty by association in the case. He has maintained his innocence and told WMBF News that he did all he could to clear his name.
“I did everything to cooperate that I possibly could. I gave them passwords, email accounts, whatever they wanted from me, I cooperated. I never shut down, I continued talking. Even through my lawyer, I never hid,” Strickland said. “I never did it, it never happened in my club. That’s what I want people to know.”
The 15th Circuit Solicitor announced on Monday that charges would be dropped against Strickland because there wasn’t enough evidence to take him to trial.
"The horrible abuse inflicted upon the minor children resulted in an innocent man being wrongly associated and charged with some of the worst violations of the law of South Carolina,” Strickland’s attorney, Jarrett Bouchette, said in a statement.
Honeycutt pleaded guilty in August 2018. Heavener entered an Alford plea last week, which means the defendant maintains his or her innocence while acknowledging there is enough evidence that a jury would convict.
Both were sentenced last week to 15 years in prison in their cases.
Honeycutt and Heavener were sentenced last week to 15 years in prison in their cases.
Spirakis pleaded guilty in 2018 but has requested a new trial in the case. He filed a post-conviction relief in May that is asking for his guilty plea to be tossed out and a new trial ordered due to “ineffective assistance of council (sic)” and “judicial error.”