South Carolina

2 Columbia men charged with sex assault of girl in Chester store parking lot

Two Columbia men are charged with sexual assault after a girl reported to police she was attacked in the parking lot of a Chester store Sunday night, police said.

Lamar Luis Cruz, 19, and Randle Terrell Huff, 21, were arrested outside the Walmart store, said Cpl. Makeesharia Tobias, spokesperson for Chester Police Department.

“This was a very unfortunate incident and we are thankful to have the suspects in custody,” Tobias said.

Both Cruz and Huff are charged with criminal sexual conduct against a minor between the age of 11 and 14, according to police and jail records.

The girl went into the store around 10 p.m. Sunday and told two Chester police officers she had been attacked, according to a police incident report.

The girl was taken to a medical facility for treatment, according to police.

The case remains under investigation, Tobias said.

It remains unclear why the Columbia men were in Chester.

Under South Carolina law, a conviction for criminal sexual conduct carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The offense is defined as a person “uses aggravated coercion to accomplish sexual battery.”

Both Cruz and Huff were denied bond after a court hearing Monday and remain at the Chester County Detention Center.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.