Release Courtesy of the South Carolina Attorney Generals Officer
January 5, 2023
(COLUMBIA, S.C.) South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced the arrest of Lewis Matthew Hardenbrook (age 34), of Pickens, S.C., on seven charges connected to the sexual exploitation of minors. Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force investigators with the Pickens County Sheriff's Office made the arrest. Investigators with the Attorney General's Office, Homeland Security Investigations, and Oconee County Sheriff's Office, all also members of the state's ICAC Task Force, assisted with the investigation.
Investigators received a CyberTipline report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which led them to Hardenbrook. Investigators state Hardenbrook engaged in criminal sexual conduct with a minor and produced multiple files of child sexual abuse material.
Hardenbrook was arrested on December 21, 2022. He is charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, third degree (§16-3-655(C)); and four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, first degree (§16-15-395), a felony offense punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment on each count.
This case will be prosecuted by the Attorney General's Office.
Attorney General Wilson stressed all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.
* Child sexual abuse material, or CSAM, is a more accurate reflection of the material involved in these heinous and abusive crimes. "Pornography" can imply the child was a consenting participant. Globally, the term child pornography is being replaced by CSAM for this reason.