From staff reports for the Effingham Herald
A teenage victim is alleging Effingham County Commissioner Reggie Loper sexually assaulted her multiple times over a five-year period that began when she was 12 years old.
Loper was arrested May 17 by the Georgia Bureau Investigation and charged with child molestation and misdemeanor sexual battery. He posted bond later that same day, according to a spokesperson with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Savannah TV station WTOC, Loper’s arrest stemmed from a civil case filed Jan. 5, 2023. On Jan. 9, Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie recused himself from the case and requested the GBI investigate the allegations of child sexual abuse in the civil suit.
WTOC reported on May 18 that the teenage victim disclosed multiple sexual assaults committed by 84-year-old Loper over the past five years. According to the report, the assaults started when the victim was 12, and continued until approximately August 2022.
WTOC reported that the GBI was scheduled to interview the victim Jan. 9, as part of their investigation and led to Loper’s arrest.
The civil case against Loper included a petition for a temporary protective order as the victim said she feared for her safety. Judge F. Gates Peed of the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit heard the civil case and ruled that Loper had to stay away from the victim, the victim’s residence, workplace and/or school and also could not be within 500 yards of the victim.
The protective order also banned any direct or indirect contact between Loper and the victim; and any and all firearms in Loper’s possession or access were to be held by the sheriff’s office for safekeeping. According to WTOC, the protective order was dismissed in February, but other protections could be filed in a future criminal case.
Loper, who has represented District 4 for almost 20 years, was present at the May 16 regularly scheduled County Commissioners meeting, and he’s still a member, according to County Commission Chairman Wesley Corbitt.
“There’s nothing the board has to take steps on,” Corbitt said. “That will be outside the board.
“Someone’s been made a charge against and he’s not been found guilty.
“Somebody will give us direction on what to do. He is innocent until proven guilty.”
According to meeting minutes posted on the county commission website, Loper has attended every regularly scheduled meeting this year except Jan.17.