BLACKSBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A Blacksburg man is behind bars after police said he confessed to sexually assaulting a three-year-old on at least 10 different occasions.
7 News learned these kinds of crimes are unfortunately more prevalent than many people may realize.
“Ever since watching that video, I get emotional just to go back and think about the acts that happened with that child,” Blacksburg Police Chief Jamie Ham said.
In his nearly 30 years in law enforcement, Blacksburg Police Chief and father-of-three Jamie Ham said he’s never seen a crime so heinous.
“It’s something you wish you’d never seen,” he said. “You can’t un-see something like that.”
Chief Ham told 7 News a person came to the police department after finding an old phone that belonged to Jerry Whisnant. On that phone, Ham said, were videos of at least ten separate incidents where Whisnant performed sex acts on a three-year-old girl.
“As police officers, being the protectors of our community and our family, seeing that video, it’s very tough to watch,” Ham said.
Chief Ham said, during an interrogation, Whisnant gave police a full confession. He’s now being held at the Cherokee County Detention Center, facing ten counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
“There was no indication, that I know of, in the community, that this person would do something like this,” Chief Ham said.
Sadly, investigators told 7 News these kinds of crimes against children are more common than we think.
“One in ten children will experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday,” Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center Emily Miller said.
Miller said more than 90% of the time, the offender is someone the child knows and often trusts.
“It’s a hard problem to wrap our heads around because most kids don’t tell,” she said.
But there are some emotional and behavioral signs that parents can be on the lookout for.
“You might observe some sexually inappropriate behaviors or, with some kids who have been potty-trained, you might see a regression in potty-training. You might see nightmares, bed-wetting, that sort of thing,” she said.
Miller said some children may become more withdrawn while others may become more aggressive.
“Kids running away or problems in school,” she said.
Miller said it’s important to have frequent body safety conversations with your children.
“Teaching them correct names for body parts so that, if something were to happen, they would have the language to be able to describe it,” she said.
Jerry Whisnant was denied bond and was ordered by a judge to have no contact with the victim.
According to Chief Ham, Whisnant could be facing anywhere from 25 to 125 years behind bars.
Chief Ham said this is an ongoing investigation and he’s now asking that, if you believe your child has had any contact with Whisnant, to contact the Blacksburg Police Department immediately.