Former Savannah priest indicted on sexual assault charges

JASPER CO., SC (WTOC) - A former Savannah priest has been indicted on sexual assault charges.

Wayland Brown has been indicted by a grand jury for allegedly sexually assaulting two boys in the late 1970s to early 1980s. Brown was a priest at St. James Catholic Church at the time.

Reportedly, Brown brought the two boys to several locations in Jasper County and sexually assaulted them.

Brown was arrested in Maryland and will be extradited back to South Carolina to be prosecuted.

Nine indictments were handed down Thursday by a Jasper County grand jury. They followed more than a year of investigation by the Solicitor's Office and the Chatham District Attorney's Office.

South Carolina Solicitor Duffie Stone of the 14th District and Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap held a news conference on Monday, announcing the joint investigation they've been conducting for over 14 months has finally lead to charges against Brown. Heap says it all began when her office received a tip about the abuse, but since the statute of limitations for this type of crime in Georgia has run out, that's when she turned to South Carolina, because according to investigators, Brown took the boys from Georgia and into South Carolina where they were sexually abused at several locations in Jasper County, including near a depot and railroad tracks, the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, and St. Anthony's Catholic Church.

"The indictments allege that the one child was sexually assaulted at the different locations in Jasper County when the child was in the fifth grade, the sixth grade, and the seventh grade. The indictments also allege that another child - on separate instances - was sexually assaulted at those same three locations when he was in the seventh grade," Solicitor Stone said.

While investigators were still building their case in South Carolina, one of the victims filed a civil suit in Chatham County, which claimed the diocese knew Brown had a history of abuse. WTOC spoke exclusively with that victim back in 2016 after he won that civil suit, the court ordering the Catholic Diocese of Savannah to pay him $4.5 million. We are not identifying the victim, but this is what he told us back then about Brown.

"He had a good way of putting fear into you; making you feel like you had no choice to do what you were doing."

In 2003, Brown was convicted in a separate case of child molestation charges in Maryland and served five years in prison and was forced to register as a sex offender. Investigators are looking to bring him back to South Carolina to be tried on the evidence in this case. They believe there could potentially be more information and possibly even more victims out there.

"If there are any other victims out there, we urge them to come forward," said Solicitor Stone.

"Anyone with information...all it will do is strengthen the case," Heap said.

If you have information, call the tip line at 912.652.8080.

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