MYRTLE BEACH — Four men have been indicted in federal court on allegations they participated in a sex trafficking conspiracy involving a girl from the Myrtle Beach area.
Authorities allege the girl was coerced into performing sexual acts with men and women at hotels and private residences in the Myrtle Beach area as part of a “sexual dominant/submissive relationship” she developed with Hart William Grow.
Grow, a 25-year-old married man from Surprise, Ariz., became involved in an online relationship with the girl in February 2020 after meeting her on the social media chat application Wattpad, according to court records. The girl’s age was not disclosed in court documents.
Claiming to be a 17-year-old Columbia resident named Hannah, Grow told the girl to engage in sexual acts with adults, both male and female, in encounters he arranged and vetted, court documents claim.
The encounters involved “sexual intercourse, physical mutilation of the victim’s genitalia, and physical and verbal abuse,” records state.
During one of these encounters, the girl met Theodore Bye III, 35, a North Myrtle Beach man who took her to various locations for sex, which he recorded and sent to Grow, according to court documents.
The girl told both Bye and Grow she was underage, records state.
The girl engaged in sexual acts with Sanadin Elrayes, 28, of Myrtle Beach on June 4, 2020, at a Surfside Beach hotel, according to court documents.
Charles Joseph Spillane, 44, of Little River, engaged in sexual acts with the girl on Aug. 25, 2020, at his Myrtle Beach home, according to court documents.
Bye also participated in those sexual encounters, according to court documents.
The girl disclosed during a forensic interview that she also had sex with a male school teacher, records state. That allegation remains under investigation.
The girl was not the only victim coerced by Grow, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for South Carolina.
In early 2021, Grow began communicating with a second minor victim in South Carolina, the release states. He is accused of coercing that minor into producing visual depictions of sexually explicit content until shortly before his arrest in Arizona.
The defendants used social media applications including Snapchat, Wattpad and Kik to communicate with the victims and each other, the release states. Grow used screen names including “hgliese” and “hanners,” as well as aliases including Terry and Hannah while communicating with the victims, court records state.
All four men were charged in a 13-count superseding indictment filed June 23 in federal court with conspiracy to coerce a minor and produce child pornography. The indictment was unsealed June 29.
Grow and Bye face several other felony offenses, including conspiracy to sex traffic a minor, sex trafficking of a juvenile, coercion or enticement of a female, sexual exploitation of a child and production of child pornography.
Grow and Bye face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Elrayes and Spillane face a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Grow’s wife filed for divorce after his arrest. The case remains pending in Maricopa County, Ariz.
Attempts to reach attorneys for the defendants, who remain jailed, were unsuccessful. The men have entered not guilty pleas.
“While this indictment speaks for itself, human trafficking and child exploitation are vile crimes, and this office will swiftly and aggressively prosecute those who prey upon minors,” acting U.S. Attorney M. Rhett DeHart said.
He urged parents to remain vigilant and pay attention to their children’s online and social media activity.
“No demographic is immune from this type of crime, and no family with a computer or a phone is out of reach from these types of predators,” DeHart said.
The case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the State Law Enforcement Division, Horry County Sheriff’s Office and Myrtle Beach Police Department.
“Human trafficking and child exploitation is real, and it is happening in South Carolina,” SLED Chief Mark Keel said. “We have and will continue to work in collaboration with our local and federal partners to rescue those being victimized and bring justice to those who profit from the misery of others.”
Authorities are asking anyone with information relevant to the investigation to call the Homeland Security Investigations tip line at 866-347-3423.
Victims of human trafficking seeking assistance in South Carolina can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888, or text HELP or INFO to 233733.
Additional information about human trafficking can be found by visiting polarisproject.org or humantrafficking.scag.gov.