A Clarendon County jury deliberated for a little more than an hour Tuesday afternoon before finding Arley Atchley, a former employee of the Free Will Baptist Home for Children in Turbeville, not guilty of criminal sexual activity with two residents of the facility.
Atchley, 54, who was arrested on Feb. 11, 2010, was not an employee of the FWBHC at the time of his arrest. He had left the Home the year before to become the pastor of a church in the Florence area.
“Justice happened yesterday,” Achley’s attorney Shaun Kent said Wednesday morning. “He said he was innocent from the beginning. He was looking at a life sentence and he never waivered in the slightest. He said he put it in the Lord’s hands.”
Atchley was charged with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, one count of a lewd act on a child under 16 and one count of disseminating harmful materials to a minor.
With his client facing a possible life sentence, Kent said Atchley turned down several plea offers before going to trial.
“He believed in the jury system,” Kent added. “He believed that a jury would find him innocent of the charges.”
Kent said the jury of eight women and four men did their job of following the law and their oath.
Third Circuit Solicitor Ernest A. “Chip” Finney III, whose office in Clarendon County prosecuted the case, was unavailable Wednesday for comment.