Upstate family shines light on child abuse after losing grandson


The family of a Laurens County toddler, molested and murdered last summer, is speaking out in hopes of shining a light on child abuse.

“Our grandson Brantley Smith was murdered on June 30, 2018, in Clinton, South Carolina,” said Cheryl Fowler, Brantley’s grandmother. 

That date is burned into Cheryl Fowler’s memory. 

Almost a year later, she’s found the strength to talk about her 2-year-old grandson’s senseless death. She is using her voice to send a message about child abuse. 

“It’s time to shine a light on it,” she told 7News. 

Laurens County investigators say Smith was brutally beaten, molested and murdered. 

Jessica Smith, the child’s mother, and her boyfriend, William Looper, were charged in the child’s death. 

Fowler tells 7News the unspeakable tragedy left her family in pieces. It’s a nightmare she hopes no other family has to experience. 

Since then, she’s taken it upon herself to learn more about child abuse and educate others. 

“Abuse doesn’t typically happen spontaneously,” Fowler said. 

Now she’s joined forces with Laurens County First Steps to raise awareness during Child Abuse Prevention Month. 

“She is going to speak tomorrow night,” said Rosemary Patterson, the Executive Director of Laurens County First Steps. “She is dynamic in her mission and her dedication to this cause and we are very fortunate to have her be on our team.” 

Fowler says looking back had she noticed the signs, maybe she could have saved her grandson’s life. 

“The goal of tomorrow is to educate. What does it [child abuse] look like in the beginning?” Fowler said. “What are some of the things it sounds like? [Things you can notice and then] you can intervene and maybe not lose another child.” 

The Shine the Light on Child Abuse event is on Fri., April 12, 2019, at the Laurens County Courthouse. It starts at 7 p.m. 

Organizers say it’s a rain or shine event.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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