An Edgefield County man was sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexual assault, concluding a lengthy investigation.

Eric Wayne Knowles, 57, pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor in Lexington County.

Knowles pleaded guilty on May 9. Edgefield County Sheriff Jody Rowland said the crimes are considered non-parole felonies under South Carolina law.

The Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office worked with Attorney Rick Hubbard, Assistant Attorney Suzanne Mayes, Senior Attorney Robby McNair and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office to obtain technical assistance in processing digital evidence.

Sheriff Rowland said during the investigation, forensic testing revealed that Knowles used his phone to produce sexually explicit images of a minor and to record years of abuse of the minor. Rowland confirmed that Knowles used other electronic devices throughout his home to secure his activities.

Knowles was being held at the Edgefield County Detention Center at the time of sentencing. He was transferred to the South Carolina Department of Corrections to immediately begin serving his 22-year sentence.

“I am grateful and proud of the quality investigation conducted by the men and women of the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office and our partners who worked tirelessly to secure the evidence and bring this case to a successful conclusion,” said Sheriff Rowland.

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