MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCIV) - An HIV-positive Berkeley County man accused of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl has been sentenced by a judge to serve 55 years in prison.
A Berkeley County jury on Thursday found Jefferey Whitsett, 27, guilty of six counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, and one count of exposing another to HIV.
Judge Kristi Harrington sentenced Whitsett to 45 years on the criminal sexual conduct charge, to be followed by 10 years on the HIV exposure charge. The 9th Circuit Solicitors Office says Whitsett must serve 38 years before being eligible for parole.
Investigators say the victim told her mother in 2015 about Whitsett sexually assaulting her over the course of several months.
Prosecutors say a neighbor found a pair of the girl's bloody underpants hidden behind a box in Whitsett’s motorcycle shop several weeks later. Lab tests found both the victim's and Whitsett's DNA on the child's underwear.
Prosecutors say Whitsett claimed he frequently suffered from "black-outs" when asked if he had sexually assaulted the girl.
Court records show Whitsett has prior convictions for receiving stolen goods and possession of a stolen vehicle.