3 Horry County men, 1 other charged in multi-state child sex trafficking case

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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Four people, including three from Horry County, were arrested in a multi-state child sex trafficking and child exploitation case, according to acting US Attorney M. Rhett Dehart.

The four people have been charged in a 13-count indictment for their respective roles in alleged child sex trafficking, production of child pornography, and coercion and enticement of a minor.

The case involves activity spanning from Arizona to South Carolina, and victims from the Pee Dee and Midlands regions of South Carolina.

Theodore Woolings Bye, III, 36, of Myrtle Beach, has been charged with conspiracy to sexually traffic a minor, sexual trafficking of minor, conspiracy to produce child pornography and to coerce and entice a minor, two counts of production of child pornography, two counts of coercion and enticement of a minor, and possession of child pornography.

Sanadin Mohamed Elrayes, 28, of Surfside Beach, and Charles Joseph Spillane, 44, of Myrtle Beach, have both been charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography and to coerce and entice a minor.

Hart William Grow, 25, of Surprise, Arizona, has been charged with conspiracy to sexually traffic a minor, sexual trafficking of minor, conspiracy to produce child pornography and to coerce and entice a minor, four counts of production of child pornography involving two victims, four counts of coercion and enticement of a minor involving two victims, and possession of child pornography.

The indictment alleges that, since at least April 2020, Grow and Bye conspired to recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, maintain, patronize, and solicit a minor victim in South Carolina to engage in a commercial sex act.

The record in the case alleges that Grow, from his home in Arizona and through the internet, misrepresented to various minors across the country that he was also a minor and was interested in a relationship.  In this case, Grow allegedly claimed to a minor victim that he was a 17-year-old female named “Hannah” living in Columbia, South Carolina.

Using this false persona and promising love and affection, Grow groomed the minor victim to fall in love with “Hannah.”  It was then, the indictment alleges, that Grow abused his position of trust with the minor victim to enter into a “sexual dominant/submissive relationship, to hold absolute power and control over the victim, and to employ bondage/discipline, domination/submission, and sadism/masochism (“BDSM”) techniques.”

Threatening the minor victim if the victim did not obey his BDSM rules, Grow required the victim to engage in often-violent sexual acts with adult men that the victim did not otherwise wish to engage with.

According to Court records, Grow used message boards and social media to make his minor victim available to adult males for sexual encounters in exchange for the men sending visual depictions of the sexual encounters to him.  Specifically, Grow required the adult males to produce, or assist in the production of, a visual depiction of the often-violent sexual acts.  One such male, according to the indictment, was Bye.

The indictment alleges that Bye, with the assistance of Grow, not only participated in the sexual acts with the victim but also made the victim available for sex on numerous occasions to other men.  

According to the indictment, Bye would transport the victim to various locations in and around Myrtle Beach for commercial sex acts and would use internet message boards, social media, and text messages to make the victim available to other adult males for sexual encounters.

This is not the first time Bye has been charged with sexual exploitation of a minor. In September 2020, Bye was arrested on 26 charges related to the sexual assault of minors.

The indictment further alleges that Elrayes and Spillane responded to Bye’s internet postings and, after communicating with Bye via social media and text messages, engaged in sexually explicit conduct with the minor.

According to the indictment, the visual depictions with Elrayes were created at a hotel in Surfside Beach, and the visual depictions with Spillane were created at his Myrtle Beach home.

The indictment also alleges that in early 2021, after Grow had trafficked the first minor victim, he began communicating with a second minor victim in South Carolina.  According to Court records, Grow coerced the second minor into producing visual depictions of sexually explicit conduct until shortly before his arrest in Arizona.

According to Court records, the defendants used social media applications, including Snapchat, Wattpad, and Kik to communicate with the victims and with each other.  Grow used screen names, including “hgliese” and “hanners,” and aliases, including “Terry” and “Hannah,” when allegedly communicating with his victims.

Grow and Bye face a maximum penalty of life, and Elrayes and Spillane face a maximum penalty of five years. 

“While this indictment speaks for itself, human trafficking and child exploitation are vile crimes, and this office will swiftly and aggressively prosecute those who prey upon minors,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart.  “Our ability to address these cases hinges on the great work of our federal, state, and local partners.  We also ask parents to be vigilant and to pay attention to your children’s online and social media activity.  No demographic is immune from this type of crime, and no family with a computer or a phone is out of reach from these types of predators.”

The case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the Horry County Sheriff’s Office, and the Myrtle Beach Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorneys Derek A. Shoemake and Amy Bower are prosecuting the case.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.  Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.  For more information, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Captain Sherri Smith at the Horry County Sheriff’s Office is the Chair of the Coastal Region Human Trafficking Task Force. She said HCSO has two full-time investigators that are assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children task force. The agency also has a computer forensic analyst that can help to investigate devices involved in these types of crimes.

Captain Smith called the four arrests in this case a ‘victory.’

“This is an arrest of four people that were preying on young children and so to have them indicted and behind bars that just shows you the work… by all agencies,” Captain Smith said. “There was a lot of hard work. A lot of investigative work and they did it and made it happen.”

Captain Smith said a big goal of the task force is education. She added that awareness among parents and other community members is critical in stopping trafficking.

“We always say get in your child’s business,” Captain Smith said. “So you need to know the passwords to their phones, you need to know passwords to their social media.”

Left to right: Theodore Woolings Bye, Sanadin Mohamad Elrayes, Charles Joseph Spillane and Hart William Grow

She encourages community members to report any suspicious behavior to their local law enforcement.

Count on News13 for updates on this case.

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