WALHALLA, S.C. (WSPA) – Seven men from Oconee County were arrested over the week on sexual exploitation of a minor charges.

According to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, an investigator with the sheriff’s office received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding the possession and possible distribution of child sexual abuse material.

Search warrants were executed at seven different addresses in Oconee County over the last two days.

According to deputies, the ages of the victims ranged from three years to 16 years of age.

“The victims, for the most part, were primarily girls. However, in one investigation, the victim was a boy,” said Master Deputy Jimmy Watt, Public Information Officer with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

The evidence seized by investigators indicated that the material was possessed by all seven men and in some instances, was then distributed over the internet.

The following individuals were arrested during the sting:

  • Ernest Joseph McDonald, 23, charged with sexual exploitation of a minor -3rd degree – One count.
  • Thomas Gerald Allred, 45, charged with sexual exploitation of a minor – 2nd degree – Four counts.
  • Terry Randall Belk, Jr., 23, charged with sexual exploitation of a minor – 2nd degree – One count.
  • Jon Joseph Carranza, 26, charged with sexual exploitation of a minor – 2nd degree – One count.
  • Richard David Raffl, 74, charged with sexual exploitation of a minor – 3rd degree – One count.
  • William Douglas Minner, 59, charged with sexual exploitation of a minor – 3rd degree – Twenty counts.
  • Robert Mann Hagan, 74, charged with sexual exploitation of a minor – 3rd degree – One count.
  • Ernest Joseph McDonald (SOURCE: Oconee County Sheriff's Office)
  • Thomas Gerald Allred (SOURCE: Oconee County Sheriff's Office)
  • Terry Randall Belk, Jr. (SOURCE: Oconee County Sheriff's Office)
  • Jon Joseph Carranza (SOURCE: Oconee County Sheriff's Office)
  • Richard David Raffl (SOURCE: Oconee County Sheriff's Office)
  • William Douglas Minner (SOURCE: Oconee County Sheriff's Office)
  • Robert Mann Hagan (SOURCE: Oconee County Sheriff's Office)

Watt said they were not aware of any relationship between the suspects.

Now authorities are sending this message to everyone.

“When you post something to social media, when you share a picture or an image, especially when it relates to explicit material, even if you erase that information, that information can still be pulled from a device,” said Watt.

“Really, once you send an image – whether it’s through social media, a text message, instant message or whatever – you really have no control over where that image goes and it really could end up on the hands of someone who is looking for child pornography online,” Watt said.

Watt said it’s important for parents to monitor their children.

“If a parent gets information, if they receive information from their child that perhaps, images they have sent have been compromised someway, or have been sent to other people, intentionally or unintentionally, one of the best things they can do is contact law enforcement immediately,” Watt said. “Save any information that is on their device.”