Former Florence 5 school board chairman charged in connection with child sex abuse case

Former Florence 5 school board chairman charged in connection with child sex abuse case
Christopher Garrett Marsh and Mary Costa King Marsh. (Source: Florene County Detention Center)

FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Two people have been arrested in connection to a child abuse investigation in Florence County, deputies said.

Christopher Garrett Marsh, 51, is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

Randy Smiley, superintendent for Florence School District Five, confirmed that Marsh submitted his resignation Wednesday, having served as the school board chairman.

Also arrested was Mary Costa King Marsh, 40, who is charged with two counts of unlawful neglect of a child. According to Smiley, she is also employed with the school district and is currently on leave.

The duo were arrested Thursday following an “extensive investigation” by child abuse investigators with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office, according to a press release.

Beginning in the middle of 2015, Christopher Marsh allegedly sexually assaulted the victim, who was five years old at the time, deputies said.

The abuse reportedly continued through February 2021.

According to investigators, Mary Marsh was aware of the abuse in 2015 but continued to allow the child to be exposed.

Booking records show she was released from the Florence County Detention Center on a $20,000 bond.

Christopher Marsh remains in jail as of Thursday afternoon.

Rose Mary Parham, Mary Marsh’s attorney, said her client was made aware of an isolated incident of inappropriate contact several years ago but didn’t know about the “repeated nature” or the extent of the abuse.

“She is devastated by what has happened to the child and began working with investigators once she was made aware of the recent allegations,” Parham said in a statement.

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