MYRTLE BEACH AREA, SC (WBTW) – Charges have been dismissed for a man in an Horry County child sexual abuse case.
All pending charges for Anthony L. Strickland have been dismissed, Assistant Solicitor Leigh Andrew said in a letter to the Horry County Police Department.
“Prosecution of the co-defendants and their guilty pleas was made possible by the cooperation and anticipated testimony of co-defendant Lindsay Honeycutt,” the letter said. “Ms. Honeycutt has been either unwilling or unable to implicate Mr. Strickland in the commission of these crimes.”
“A jury trial for co-defendant Edward Ambrose Heavener was scheduled for July 2019. Ms. Honeycutt was expected to testify at that trial and I was interested to hear if her testimony would implicate Mr. Strickland in anyway,” the letter also said. “I have had communications from jail house informants who indicate Mr. Heavener has made statement while incarcerated suggesting Mr. Strickland’s involvement. Now that all of the co-defendants have pleaded guilty, no further information can be gleaned from a trial on any of the co-defendants charges in the near future.”
“I have also interviewed a couple of individuals in the last few months who stated they had information regarding Mr. Strickland. However, nothing these witnesses provide was helpful to the prosecution of these particular charges,” the letter added. “Based on the foregoing, I do not believe there is sufficient evident to proceed with prosecution of the charges against Mr. Strickland at this time. Therefore, I made the decision to dismiss all of the pending charges against him.”
Strickland’s attorneys, the Johnny Gardner Law Group, released a statement on Tuesday, saying in part, “Mr. Strickland has maintained his innocence since he first learned of allegations in this case.”
“The decision on the part of the solicitor’s office to dismiss the charges against Mr. Strickland will no doubt be viewed as an unpopular one with certain members of the public,” the statement also said. “However, we believe it is the right decision given the evidence in this case and commend the solicitor’s office with ultimately making such a decision.”
Panteleimon N. Spirakis, of Myrtle Beach, pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of engaging children for a sexual performance, and one count of first degree sexual exploitation of a minor in August 2018. A judge sentenced Spirakis to serve 17 years each on the criminal sexual conduct with a minor charges and 17 years each on the engaging a child for sexual performance, with all of the sentences running concurrently. Spirakis was also sentenced to three years on the sexual exploitation charge, which will be served consecutively to the other charges. He is not eligible for parole on the offenses.
Honeycutt also pleaded guilty to charges in the case in August 2018. She was not sentenced at the time because she had agreed to testify in the cases of Heavener and Strickland, the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s office previous said.
Honeycutt and Heavener appeared in court on Friday. Honeycutt was sentenced to 15 years on two counts of assault and battery of a high an aggravated nature, which is a lesser included charge of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, and two counts of unlawful conduct toward a child. Heavener, 33, of Conway, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, 1,209 days credited. He was sentenced on a charge of sexual exploitation of a minor in the first degree.
Horry County police said detectives received information on January 25, 2016 of sex crimes committed against two young children. Detectives spoke with the children and learned that they were being sexually abused by their family and friends of their family.
In an incident report from Horry County police documenting the abuse, officers note that they spoke with an individual who stated she had been providing counseling to the young victims since May 1, 2015, after a Department of Social Services investigation revealed the children were “being forced to have sex with their siblings and their parents.”
During the investigation, detectives learned that some of the sexual assaults took place in Horry County at a location the victims referred to as “the dance club.” That location was later identified as Chez Joey, a strip club located at 716 Seaboard Street in Myrtle Beach, according to the report.