Convicted Molester Assaulted Children Forty Years | News
Convicted child molester Andrew Payne began his illegal activities as a teenager and continued molesting children for 40 years.
That's according to Laurens County District Attorney Craig Fraser who calls the Payne saga the worst case of child molestation he's ever seen.
Fraser said Tuesday that Payne kept his victims silent by threatening them and in some cases their families. But Fraser said things began unraveling about two years ago when a young boy told authorities that Payne had molested him
That, Fraser said, lead to Payne's arrest.
"We had a bond hearing, and during the bond hearing, some names were dropped and talked about from the stand," Fraser said. "Law enforcement went and interviewed them, and it just began to snowball."
Last week, a Laurens County jury convicted Payne of three counts of aggravated child molestation involving a pre-teen boy. He was sentenced to three consecutive life terms.
But Fraser said there were many more victims.
"We know 10 absolutely right now," Fraser said. "But they have talked with the possibility of 25 victims.
But since Payne already faces three consecutive life sentences, Fraser said he won't be prosecuted for the other sex crimes.
"What happens is some of the victims are too young. Some of the victims, the statute of limitations have ran. Some of the victims will hint at something has happened, but is not wanting to come forward and talk about it," Fraser said.
The DA said Payne, now 56, began molesting children when he was a teenager.
"He always seemed to prefer really young victims, five years old," Fraser said. "We even had one that we think, well, was three years old, and it was a female, but we've had females and males in this case."
Melanie Gunn, board president of Stepping Stone, a Dublin organization that helps abused children, said some victims feel ashamed.
"The whole thing about sexual abuse with children is there's a lot of shame connected with this type of crime," Gunn said. "As we know about adult women who have been raped, there's a severe under reporting of rapes in this country as well and we kind of expect children to come back in a room and tell us what happened to them, and they're just not equipped to do that."
Superior Court Judge Donald Gillis sentenced Payne to the three consecutive life terms. With those sentences, Fraser said, Payne will never be freed from prison.