Former Florence 5 school board chair charged with criminal sexual conduct with a child; teacher also charged

Pee Dee Crime

JOHNSONVILLE, S.C. (WBTW) — A former Florence School District Five school board chair has been charged with six counts of criminal sexual conduct involving a 5-year-old child. 

Christopher Marsh, 51, of Johnsonville, was arrested and charged on Thursday by child abuse investigators with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office. Marsh announced his resignation as chair of the Florence 5 board of trustees on Wednesday, according to superintendent Randy Smiley.

Investigators say Christopher Marsh sexually assaulted the child beginning when the child was 5 years of age, starting in the middle of 2015. Investigators also say the abuse continued through this February.

The Florence 5 school board unanimously voted Thursday night to officially accept Christopher Marsh’s resignation. The board was previously scheduled for a special-called meeting to interview the final candidate to replace superintendent Smiley, who’s set to retire. A motion to accept Christopher Marsh’s resignation was added to the agenda once he offered it on Wednesday.

The district says vice chair Faith Truesdale is now the acting chair and the board will need to figure out if a new chair must be appointed or elected. Christopher Marsh won a three-year term back in November.

Mary Costa King Marsh, 40, of Johnsonville, a teacher at Florence District 5, also has been charged with two counts of child neglect in connection with the case. Marsh is on leave from her teaching position, according to the district. 

Christopher Marsh faces two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, first-degree, victim under the age of 11; two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, victim aged 11 to 14; and two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, third-degree.

Mary Marsh has been released from the Florence County Detention Center. Christopher Marsh remains in jail after being denied bond on all charges.

An attorney for Mary Marsh, Rose Mary Parham, said Mary had no knowledge of the “repeated nature or extent” of the abuse and that she began working with investigators once she was made aware.

Count on News13 for updates.

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