Lexington, SC - Matthew Darazs, of Irmo, pled guilty today in Lexington County General Sessions Court to sexually assaulting two minors over the course of several years. Darazs, age 39, pled guilty to three counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor – 2nd degree and one count of Assault and Battery – 1st degree. Circuit Court Judge William P. Keesley imposed a combined sentence of 50 years on multiple charges. Under state law, the criminal sexual conduct charges are classified as “no parole” offenses.
Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard stated, “We commend the bravery of these young survivors and the hard work of law enforcement in this case. This sentence also protects our community by removing this predator from our midst. We are thankful that justice was served today.”
The West Columbia Police Department began an investigation on July 25, 2016, after one of the victims reported a series of sexual assaults that had been committed against her by Darazs in both Lexington County and Richland County. The investigation determined that Darazs began sexually assaulting the victim as a young child and that the assaults continued through adolescence. In addition to the sexual assaults, the victim was threatened by Darazs at knife point when she was 16 years old.
As the investigation progressed, a second victim, also a minor, reported that she had been sexually assaulted by Darazs in both Lexington County and Richland County. Investigators Chris Morris and Matt Deas, of the West Columbia Police Department, interviewed Darazs and advised him of his rights. Darazs then provided detailed, written statements admitting that he sexually assaulted both of the minor victims on multiple occasions in Lexington County. The confession by Darazs, several pages in length and authored in his own handwriting, corroborated the information provided by the victims. Darazs also admitted to threatening one of the victims with a knife. West Columbia Police Department officers executed a search warrant of the home occupied by Darazs and located the hunting knife which had been described by both the victim and Darazs.
During the sentencing hearing, both victims were present and addressed the Court. They described the long term emotional impact of the assaults. One victim stated, “I used to be terrified, I never knew what horrors each day would hold.” A second victim expressed, “My childhood was taken. I continue to have flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety. This was my normal, my survival.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Solicitor Kate Usry. Usry stated, “We are grateful for the work of Inv. Chris Morris, Inv. Matt Deas, and Inv. Stacy Turner in this case. Sexual assault cases are among the most challenging cases that we prosecute. These investigators worked extensively to corroborate the victims’ reports and to obtain the detailed admissions from Darazs. Their commitment to this case was essential in bringing forth this conviction.”
Investigator Stacy Turner of the West Columbia Police Department stated at the sentencing hearing, “I’ve been working sexual assault cases for eight years. I’ve never seen abuse as severe as this … he (Darazs) had no remorse.” Darazs is being transferred to the S.C. Department of Corrections to begin his sentence immediately.