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School board chairman in Johnsonville arrested on child abuse charges
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School board chairman in Johnsonville arrested on child abuse charges

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FLORENCE, S.C. — Two people, one of whom was the chairman of the Florence County School District Five Board of Trustees, face child abuse charges after being arrested Wednesday.

Christopher Garrett Marsh, 51, of 1736 Capitola Road in Johnsonville, was arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (victim under 11 years of age), two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor (victim 11-14 years of age) and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, according to the Florence County Sheriff's Office.

Marsh gave his address at the time of his booking into the Florence County Detention Center as 42 Cascade Drive in Murrells Inlet. Marsh also continues to be listed as the school board chairman on the school system's website.

Mary Costa King Marsh, 40, also of 1736 Capitola Road, was arrested at the same time and charged with two counts of unlawful neglect of a child, according to the sheriff's office.

Christopher Garrett Marsh is listed as the chairman of the school board on the district's website. On Wednesday, Vice chairwoman Faith Truesdale sent  notice of a called meeting of the board set for tonight to deal with the resignation of a board member.

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Child abuse investigators with the sheriff's office made the arrests.

Maj. Mike Nunn wrote in a media advisory that "Marsh is alleged to have sexually assaulted the victim when the victim was five years of age. Investigators further allege that the abuse continued through February of 2021."

Mary Costa King Marsh was charged because, according to investigators, "Marsh is the mother of the victim who had allegedly been made aware of the abuse by the child in the middle of 2015 and continued to allow the child to be exposed to a substantial risk of physical harm up to and including Feb. 21, 2021," Nunn wrote.

The board of trustees will meet at 7 p.m. today at the Johnsonville Middle School Media Center at 415 Maple Street.

Christopher Garrett Marsh remains in the detention center awaiting a bond hearing, according to the detention center's website.

Mary Costa King Marsh's defense attorney Rose Mary Parham issued a statement on her behalf that said "Mary was mad aware of an isolated incident of inappropriate contact several years ago but had no knowledge of the repeated nature or the extent of the abuse. She is devastated by what has happened to the child and began working with investigators once she was made aware of the recent allegations."

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