Hortense man arrested for incident with minor
A Hortense man has been arrested for allegedly behaving inappropriately with a 14-year-old girl earlier in April.
Justin Eric Thornton, 21, was booked into the jail on April 30 and charged with child molestation, which is a felony.
Just after midnight on April 21, a Camden County Sheriff’s Office deputy checked on a suspicious vehicle parked on the side of Highway 110. They found Thornton, who wasn’t wearing any pants, in the car with the girl, according to the arrest warrant. Both said nothing sexual had happened, so the girl was released to a parent and Thornton was allowed to leave.
Two days later, the girl said in a forensic interview they had been kissing that night and Thornton wasn’t wearing pants because he had spilled tea on them.
“I received consent from (the girl’s) mother to search her phone,” CCSO investigator Erica Rafferty wrote in the warrant. “I found that there were no text messages between she and Mr. Thornton, which led me to believe the messages had been deleted. In addition, I found a folder titled “Justin” and it contained approximately 105 photos of Mr. Thornton.
Thornton was also interviewed and said he knew the girl from church, they had kissed and held hands and had discussed dating when she turned 18.
Rafferty also reviewed the deputy’s dash camera footage from April 21 and noticed that Thornton put his shirt back on before the deputy approached.