Documents reveal claims resulting in Effingham Co. commissioner’s arrest

Published: May. 18, 2023 at 3:46 PM EDT
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EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Effingham County Commissioner Reggie Loper was arrested on child molestation charges.

WTOC Investigates obtained documents detailing claims against the District 4 commissioner.

A civil case sparked the ongoing 5-month investigation leading to Loper facing child molestation and sexual battery charges. He posted bond on Wednesday, May 17.

A petition for a temporary protective order filed on Jan. 5 obtained by WTOC Investigates shows a teenage victim disclosed multiple sexual assaults committed by 84-year-old Loper over the last five years. The assaults started when the victim was 12, continuing until approximately August 2022.

The victim and her mother reported the abuse to the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, also on Jan. 5. Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie recused himself from the investigation and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was asked to take over.

The order says the GBI was scheduled to interview the victim on Jan. 9. A statement sent to WTOC from the GBI matches that date, saying on Jan. 9, they were asked to investigate sexual assault allegations leading to Loper’s May 17 arrest.

The petition for a temporary protective order says the victim was in fear for her safety.

Judge F. Gates Peed heard the civil case, signed off on four of their requests in the order. One, requiring Loper to stay away from the victim, the victim’s residence, workplace and/or school. Another request said Loper can’t be within 500 yards of the victim.

Also, he couldn’t have any direct or indirect contact with the victim by any means of communication. Lastly, any and all firearms in Loper’s possession or access were to be held by the sheriff’s office for safekeeping.

This temporary protective order was dismissed on Feb. 23. An attorney for the victim and her mother said these were orders dismissed in a civil case. But, she says other protections could be filed in a criminal case.

WTOC did contact Loper’s attorney in that civil case and have not heard back.

Commissioner Loper has served on the Effingham County Board of Commissioners for nearly two decades and does not have a prior criminal record in Effingham County.