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Former Mullins coach pleads guilty to showing minors harmful material

Former Mullins coach pleads guilty to showing minors harmful material

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Former Mullins High School football coach Gregory Hill stands next to a Marion courtroom officer Friday while pleading guilty to several charges involving two teenage girls. A judge sentence Hill to what amounts to five years of probation after Hill admitted he showed pictures of his genitals to the two victims in the case.

A former Mullins High School varsity football coach arrested Sept. 2, 2010, on nine counts of disseminating harmful material to a minor pleaded guilty in court Friday morning and was placed on five years of probation.

Gregory Hill pleaded guilty to charges of disseminating harmful material to minors in both Marion and Dillon Counties and pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Dillon County as well, before Circuit Court Judge William "Billy" Seals at the Marion County Courthouse.

For his plea, Hill received a sentence of 10 years suspended to five years probation for each count of disseminating harmful material and three years suspended to five years probation for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was ordered to have no contact with the victims and he must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Both of Hill's victims had asked that Hill receive probation but also requested that the sex offender registry play a vital role in Hill's punishment.

"Were it not for the grace shown by the victims in this case, this guilty plea would not be happening," deputy solicitor Kernard Redmond told the court during the hearing.

Twelfth Circuit Solicitor Ed Clements, who prosecuted the case along with Redmond, said both victims just wanted the case to be over and did not want to have to endure the stress caused by a trial.

Two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor second degree filed by Dillon County authorities were not prosecuted as part of the guilty plea agreement reached Friday.

According to a SLED arrest warrant, Hill, a teacher at the high school, invited a 16-year-old female student in his office during school hours Aug. 24 and showed her pictures of his genitals.

According to Clements, Hill stopped the teen as she was walking toward the library and asked her to follow him back to his classroom where the incident took place.

Clements said after Hill showed the pictures to the student on his cell phone, he asked if she would tell anyone about the incident, to which she replied, "no."

Hill was arrested again June 13, 2011, by South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and taken into custody at the Dillon County Detention Center.

Dillon County officials said Hill was booked there on two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor second degree, dissemination of harmful material to a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The second incident took place through internet communication after the defendant met one victim at a church in Dillon.

"This was very disturbing because the two places where you expect your children to be safest, church and school, was where these charges originated," Clements said.

According to Redmond, Hill met the then 14-year-old girl through a youth program at the church and asked her how he could contact her via the computer.

Redmond said in addition to the harmful images being sent to this victim as well, there was also an innapropriate video exchanged from the victim to Hill.

Both Redmond and Clements said that though there was no physical contact with either victim, they said that in at least one instance Hill told a victim to wait until she was of legal age, and only at that point could they meet up at his home when his wife was not there.

"It seems that this defendant actually went out of his way to avoid physical contact until they were of age," Redmond said.

"It seems like he was trying to set himself up for when they became of age, which is somewhat bizarre and I've never seen anything like that before," he said.

Redmond and Clements said the prosecution's suggestion of possible punishment in the case came as a direct request from the victims and said that Hill could have potentially received up to 23 years in prison for the offenses he faced.

Hill spoke briefly in court Friday while fighting back tears, and addressed the pain he said he has caused his family members as a result of the incidents.

"I want to apologize to everyone, most importantly the victims and also my family," Hill said to the judge before his sentence was handed down.

"I did make a mistake and I'm very remorseful but I am thankful that we can shut a door and move forward," he continued.

Hill's attorney, Morgan Martin, also spoke on his behalf and said that Hill has obtained counseling since the arrests and said that he felt a lifetime of registering as a sex offender would be sufficient punishment for the crimes.

Hill was placed on administrative leave with pay Aug. 26 -- prior to his arrest -- for allegations of inappropriate behavior, then Marion School District 2 Superintendent Michael Lupo said.

Hill's teaching contract was then terminated Dec. 10, 2010, Lupo said.






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