• Man, 21, arrested on charges of soliciting sex from 12-year-old girl on Facebook

    By: Greg Suskin


    YORK COUNTY, S.C. - A York county man, already accused of one sex crime with a juvenile, is now charged with another one.

    Ben Thrift, 21, was charged with having sex with a 14-year-old girl in York back in June.

    Records show he was released from jail on bond in July.

    Rock Hill police said Thrift solicited a 12-year-old girl for sex on Facebook last week.

    The arrest warrant states that Thrift bribed the girl with money, offering to pay her to do anything sexually that he wanted, for an hour.

    The victim said Thrift messaged her on Facebook, and that he was a Facebook friend, but she didn't know him.

    She said the conversation began casually, but then turned to sex.

    On Oct. 7, during a class at York Preparatory Academy, a teacher was talking to students about Internet safety.

    The girl spoke up and told her teacher what had happened to her the day before.

    "This young lady felt comfortable enough telling the teacher that she had been approached online," said Rock Hill Police Executive Officer Mark Bollinger.

    After detectives spoke to the victim and got access to her cellphone records and Facebook page, they called in a cybercrime expert.

    That officer set up an undercover operation, and approached Thrift.

    "They started a conversation with this gentlemen, posing as a young girl," Bollinger said.

    Police said Thrift solicited sex from the undercover officer who he thought was a young girl, and that led to his arrest.

    Even though the incident had nothing to do with the school, parents at York Prep Academy were glad to hear that a teacher took his student seriously.

    "Being a parent, I would rather they come to me and let me handle it, but that teacher, kudos to him," said Rafael Guerra.

    Chris Devinney said he's glad to know the teacher was doing what any parent would have done.

    "Knowing that the school is doing the same thing, it makes me feel good that my kids are there," he said.

    No one answered the door at Thrift's home in McConnells Thursday afternoon when Channel 9 knocked.

    He's still in jail on an $800,000 bond.

    School officials at York Prep couldn't comment specifically on the case.

    However, the director said even though the incident did not involve the school, he applauds the teacher for getting involved, and letting police know what the student had shared with him.

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