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A Georgia man receives 28 years for Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor - Second Degree

Lexington, SC 03/06/2024 - Michael Shawn Copson, 37, of Savannah, has pled guilty to two counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor - Second Degree in Lexington County General Sessions Court.  Chief Administrative Judge Debra R. McCaslin sentenced Copson to two consecutive sentences of 14 years, totaling 28 years in the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC).  Under South Carolina law, Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor - Second Degree is classified as a violent and most serious offense.  Copson is not eligible for parole.  He must register as a sex offender upon his release from SCDC. 


This case was prosecuted by Eleventh Circuit Assistant Solicitors Ashley Wellman and Jordan Cox. The investigation was conducted by the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department’s Major Crimes Unit. 

In March 2022, it was discovered that Copson, then thirty-five years old, had been consistently travelling from Savannah, Georgia to a Lexington County home to visit acquaintances. During this time, Copson began a sexual relationship with a fourteen-year old minor.  The contact continued for approximately nine months before it was discovered and reported to law enforcement.  During an interview with investigators, Copson admitted to having illegal sexual contact with the minor. 


During the guilty plea hearing, Assistant Solicitor Wellman stated that “while the State is not alleging Copson used physical force … this was by no means a consensual sexual relationship; this is a classic and egregious case of grooming.”  Grooming refers to behaviors often used by adult perpetrators to build a relationship of trust with a child in an effort to exploit or abuse the minor. Wellman explained that the grooming process attempts to normalize the abuse and obtain the child’s continued compliance.  The investigation determined there were multiple occasions in which Copson purchased inappropriate gifts for the minor, intimidated her, and attempted to isolate her from her family, all consistent with grooming behaviors.


Copson was held at the Lexington County Detention Center since he was extradited from Georgia on November 11, 2022.  He will be immediately transferred to SCDC to serve his sentence.  


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