/Ex-Spartanburg County Deputy Coroner Kip Teal pleads not guilty to child sex abuse charges

Ex-Spartanburg County Deputy Coroner Kip Teal pleads not guilty to child sex abuse charges

“I wish I could forget all the times you hurt me.”

That’s what a child said in a letter to the 22-year veteran of Spartanburg County law enforcement accused of sexually abusing her multiple times over the course of several years. A representative for the child read the letter aloud to a Spartanburg County courtroom Friday morning during 50-year-old Kip Dwayne Teal’s arraignment and bond hearing.

Teal, a former Spartanburg County deputy coroner who has served at multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the county, pleaded not guilty to six child sex abuse charges during the hearing and will remain behind bars for at least the next 90 days pending a mental health evaluation.

He faces three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor younger than 11, and three counts of third-degree sexual conduct with a minor.

He requested a jury trial during the Friday morning hearing.

Assistant state Attorney General Jerrod Fussnecker, who is prosecuting the case, said the alleged sexual assaults happened when the victim was between the ages of 6 and 8. The reported abuse happened between Aug. 1, 2013, and July 31, 2016, according to Spartanburg County Grand Jury indictments, .

The representative who spoke on behalf of the victim said the child penned the emotional letter during a weekly counseling session.

“Kip, I remember the first time you hurt me. I remember it like it was yesterday,” the child’s letter stated. “I wish I could tell you how much you hurt me, but there’s no words to explain all the hurt. I want to make you understand what you did was wrong. I wish I could forget all the times you hurt me.”

Teal started as a reserve officer at the Lyman Police Department in 1996 and left as a Class 1 officer in 2002. From Lyman, he went to the Duncan Police Department, where he worked for five years. He also worked at the Wellford Police Department for about six months, and served a seven-year stint at the Chesnee Police Department before going to the Coroner’s Office in 2015.

Teal resigned from the Coroner’s Office in May. Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger has said Teal’s resignation was related to allegations of misuse of county property, and was not linked to the child sex abuse investigation.

The victim’s representative expressed dismay that a member of law enforcement has been accused of sexually abusing a child.

“You were a safe place,” she told Teal in court. “You were an officer who everyone loved.”

At the request of Teal’s attorney, Chris Thompson, Circuit Court Judge Grace Knie delayed Teal’s bond hearing to allow time for a full mental health evaluation.

“In some of the events of the last 10 or 12 months that were given to me, there had been some red flags that showed the need for the evaluation,” Thompson said.

Teal is currently being held in solitary confinement at the Spartanburg County Detention Center as a safety precaution because of his background in law enforcement, Thompson said.

“For over 20 years, he’s been in this town employed with law enforcement,” he said. “So I’m sure there’s people in there that he’s probably arrested or crossed paths with. So it’s a safety issue for him.”

Thompson has been Teal’s attorney since Thursday night. He’s known Teal for years and said he offered to represent him after learning he did not have a lawyer.

“I went to see him in jail last night to just check on him and see if he did have anyone,” Thompson said Friday. “So that’s how I took the case up.”

The State Law Enforcement Division is handling the investigation.

First-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor is defined under state law as the sexual assault of a person younger than 11. It is a felony and, upon conviction, has a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison with no chance of a suspended sentence or probation.

Third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor is defined as a person older than 14 committing or attempting to commit a “lewd or lascivious act” on a person younger than 16. If found guilty, a person is fined at the discretion of the court and imprisoned for up to 15 years.