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Memories of the Lancaster County Courthouse

Updated on February 9, 2010


A Grand Jury in South Carolina is just about as useful as tits on a bore hog but I had a special case that day that I thought would wake up that sleepy little bunch. I shifted the indictments so that this particular case would come last behind all the DUI’s, Reckless Driving, Aggravated Assault cases and Burglaries.

It was the the mid ‘70’s. I had been promoted to the rank of Detective Sergeant at the Lancaster PD and it was my duty to meet with the Grand Jury to testify on all cases that had been made. They would rubber stamp a ruling of probable cause in each case. It was a boring process and the foreperson had heard it all. Her eyes had glazed over, she was slouched down in her chair and everyone else was paying even less attention. That was about to change.

“This is the case of the State of South Carolina vs. Chris Penn (ficticious name). He is charged with buggery.”

No one was looking at me so I stopped, put down the file and poured myself some ice water into a glass. Bottled water had not been invented yet, or if it had there was none in Lancaster.

“I was still on Patrol last summer when I made this case.” I said. “The prowler call came in about one fifteen that morning. We had been having these calls for about a month at one house on Hampton Road. So I told the Lieutenant that I was going to park about a block away and walk in. He would come in from the other end as a back-up.”

“You actually caught someone burglarizing a home?” The forelady asked.

“Not exactly.” I said and took a long swallow of the water.

“I parked on Chesterfield Avenue and walked in toward the house. The small white house was only a few feet off the street. There was a wire fence in the back about five feet tall. I eased up beside the house and sidled toward the back yard as far as the fence. Then I took a quick look into the back.”

I had their attention now, even the forelady was watching.

“I saw the defendant, kneeling in the yard. He was holding a medium sized mix breed dog to his lap and his pants were down around his ankles.”

She picked up the indictment and looked the charge typed on the front.

“Buggery,” I said. “is an unnatural sex act with a man or beast.”

She instantly dropped the indictment back onto the pile.

“I don’t remember pulling my gun.” I said. “But I had to put it back before I could climb the fence and by this time the defendant was running away and trying to hold up his pants. He got over the next fence about the time I got to to it. Then I got over and he was getting away! His pants slid down, he tripped on them and then I caught him.”

I told them about cuffing the guys hands behind his back and having to buckle his pants for him. I told them about researching the law and finding the buggery statute.

I waited but there were no questions. So I did not tell them the end of the story.

I went back to the house and interviewed the owners. They said the dog never barked and after I told them what the guy had done one of them told me that it sort of explained something she had heard.

“What?’ I asked.


“Someone going shhh, shhhh.”















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    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      6 years ago from South Carolina

      Write that one!

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Full moon. They sent him away, once they caught him. It took awhile. They had to go up after him and then they discovered he was better than they were at running around on extremely slanted roofs.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      6 years ago from South Carolina

      Vampire? Oh my!

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Well, that is one I haven't heard a story about. Have heard about the vampire running around on the roof of the housing for The Blue Angels.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      No I am not a professional anything except possibly a professional slacker!

      I am a retired police officer. I went to college a while and majored in journalism but discovered being a cop was much more fun.... most of the time.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 

      8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Like I said, I don't know about S. Carolina, being a Canadian currently in Florida. Are you a legal professional? I have a reason for asking, and if you don't want to answer here, email me from my profile.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks for reading this and for the comment. It means tons coming from someone who knows the things you do!

      In SC in 1970's it was buggery. It was a legal description in an antiquated law code.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 

      8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Hi resspenser,

      Lovely humorous piece and I could see the bored jury going through the motions, probably counting down the seconds till they were discharged and suddenly waking up to this story. I even heard a fly or two buzzing about the room. Great setting of atmosphere.

      Just one little thing: I don't know about South Carolina, but in the rest of the world buggery is a term for sodomy, and sex acts with animals called beastiality.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks for the comment Tammy. I was a little worried about this one and almost didn't publish it. I was afraid it would offend folks so I am glad you laughed.

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 

      8 years ago

      Poor dog! Thanks for the laugh I laughed out loud! How in the world did you keep a straight face? How did the court? I can just picture! Thanks for the laugh

      sincerely, Tammy

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      PeeDee,

      It was this one. It is being restored to use for a museum.

      Thanks for popping in, I'll go check out back right now. Well. after I grab the .357!

    • profile image

      ThePeeDeeWildcat 

      8 years ago from Just Across The State Line

      Resspenser:---They're just on the other side of my and your front door ( back door, too! ). By the way, didn't some eighteen year old torch that courthouse a few years ago or am I thinking about another county?

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks for the comment, Pamela99. Truthfully, I don't know what happened to the guy. Probably went into politics!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Quite a story about a digusting man. Poor dog. Hope the man got put away.

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