Jury hands down verdict in Harold Worley Jr. trial
A Horry County jury found Harold Worley Jr. not guilty of sexually abusing children, a decision that will allow the former North Myrtle Beach official to “resume his life.”
“It’s a good day for him,” defense attorney Morgan L. Martin said on Thursday.
It took the jury a little more than an hour of deliberations after two days of testimony to reach its decision. Worley faced charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and unlawful conduct towards a child. The criminal sexual conduct charge carried a penalty of 25 years to life in prison.
Prosecutors with the Attorney Generals Office maintained that Harold Worley Jr. committed sex abuse against children. The defense claimed Worley was playing a game with the children in 2016, there was no sex abuse and the allegations stemmed from a messy divorce from his ex-wife.
“This is a shot in the dark allegation,” Martin said in his closing statement. Martin added the case was only brought to trial because Worley Jr.’s ex-wife changed her statement to police alleging the crime.
Members of Worley Jr.’s family let out a loud gasp after the court clerk read out “not guilty” on both counts. After the proceedings, tears and hugs were shared by members as they celebrated the verdict.
“Alright Mr. Worley you are free to go,” Judge Robert Hood told Worley Jr.
Worley Jr.’s attorneys Martin and Valerie Giovanoli spoke after the verdict and Martin said it was a relief because Worley Jr. faced decades behind bars if he was found guilty.
“I had a good feeling because I thought we had a good case,” Martin said.