Ray Kiracofe sat quietly as he listened for 10 minutes as a former ROTC student detailed the impact of his inappropriate touching on her life.
“I know I’m forever scarred for this,” the former Socastee High School student said Monday in an Horry County courtroom.
She spoke of the shame she felt at the hands of her Air Force ROTC instructor during her senior year. She lost all hope and prayed for death to take the pain away. Those feelings dissipated over time and now the victim says her optimism is returning.
“I view every day as a new beginning,” she said, her hands slightly shaking as she read from a prepared letter, “and a chance to do something great.”
Judge George McFadden — who needed a break after hearing statements by the victim and her mother — commended the victim for speaking and said she is an inspiration to men and women. McFadden is an out-of-county judge, but heard pleas in Horry County on Monday. The Sun News does not identify the victims of crimes with a sexual element.
McFadden placed Kiracofe, 69, on five years’ probation for his guilty plea to assault and battery second-degree.
Assistant Solicitor O’Bryan Martin said Kiracofe was a Socastee High ROTC instructor. He had inappropriate contact with the student that included touching and kissing.
Kiracofe has no criminal history and the action did not progress to sexual assault, which is why Martin said the state recommended probation.
Defense Attorney Preston Brittain said Kiracofe was willing to pay any amount to help the victims, including medical bills or other costs, to rectify his assault.
“My client is ashamed and sorry for his actions,” Brittain said.
For months after the assault, the victim said she felt like the life was drained from her body; she was hopeless and depressed. She convinced herself that nobody cared for her.
“I felt so taken advantage of and manipulated,” she said.
The victim’s mom said that when her daughter came home from ROTC during freshman year she was excited. Kiracofe told the mom at one point that he loved the victim and viewed her as a daughter.
After the assault, the victim became withdrawn and removed all the ROTC accolades in her room. She also had to remove herself from college for a stretch to deal with the impact of the incident.
“I was supposed to protect my daughter,” the mother said, taking a moment to collect her thoughts amid tears. “I let her down.”
The mother called Kiracofe a disgrace and said he failed to live up to the Air Force ideals of integrity, service to others and excellence.
“He should not be allowed to wear the uniform of the U.S. Air Force again.”