AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – A former military member is staying behind bars.
Michael James Wier is facing 7 charges of child molestation, sexual abuse and providing minors with obscene materials.
The Aiken Department of Public Safety launched an investigation into Wier, after receiving information from the Criminal Investigation Division at Fort Gordon.
In this case, Public Safety investigators say there are 3 victims all under the age of 11. Which is why, they’ve charged Weir with the most severe form of Child Molestation in South Carolina.
Seven affidavits, issued against Weir, go into explicit detail of the acts he allegedly committed against an 8-year-old, a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old.
“We’re not talking about stolen cars or something like that. We are talking about stolen innocence.” Captain Maryann Burgess told WJBF NewsChannel 6.
Weir is charged with 4 counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor 3rd Degree, 2 counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor 1st Degree and 1 count of Disseminating Harmful Material or Exhibiting Harmful Performance to a minor.
“All I can really say is these charges are very serious,” Burgess said.
Captain Burgess says the incidents, which span from May 2016 to March 2017, happened at Weir’s home in the city of Aiken.
“They could have been neighbors, they could have been friends, but they were children that he had access to in that home.” Burgess told WJBF NewsChannel 6.
Only 1 out of every 10 sexually abused child, reports that abuse. In this case 7 minors were interviewed, but only 3 minors reported victimization.
The investigator couldn’t reveal the relationship between the perpetrator and the children.
However, of the hundreds of children seen at the Child Advocacy Center in Aiken, 98 percent are abused by someone they know.
“Back in the old days, my parents used to tell me to watch out for the stranger in the park with the trench coat and the hat pulled down.” Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Gayle Lofgren said. “That’s what we thought, but in reality the majority of the time it’s somebody they know.”
The Child Advocacy Center is an intervention and treatment center for abused children. Through interviews conducted here officers were able to obtain an arrest warrant for Weir.
Lofgren says perpetrators groom children, so intensive rehab and incident specific counseling is crucial to help victims overcome sexual abuse.
“Because these kids walk in the door, and they don’t the feelings they have about themselves.” Lofgren told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “A lot of times they feel like they’ve done something wrong, when really they haven’t. They have to better understand that they are not at fault. That this happened because somebody made a bad decision.”
Captain Burgess could not say if there are more victims or if more charges could be coming.
If convicted Wier faces anywhere between 25 years to life in prison.
Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story.