Saluda man gets 27 years in prison for sex crimes involving a minor

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SALUDA, SC (WRDW/WAGT) — A Saluda man has been sentenced to a lengthy prison term after pleading guilty to sex crimes involving a minor, prosecutors say.

John Lavan Wertz, 40, was sentenced to 27 years after pleading guilty to one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, the lawyer says of the SR Hubbard III 11th Circuit.

Under South Carolina law, these offenses are classified as violent crimes and Wertz is not eligible for parole.

The Saluda County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation in June 2021 after video evidence related to the crime was discovered. The investigation determined that several offenses had been committed. Additionally, Wertz wrote several incriminating letters while housed at the Saluda County Detention Center, according to Hubbard.

“We are relieved that a sex offender is no longer on the streets of Saluda County and that this behavior is still being thoroughly investigated to keep our children safe,” Sheriff Josh Price said. “Our hearts go out to the victim in this case who will live with this trauma for the rest of her life.”

Wertz is transferred to the South Carolina Department of Corrections to immediately begin serving his prison sentence.

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