A former Aiken County middle school teacher was arrested today on charges of lewd act and criminal sexual conduct with a 14-year-old girl. The arrest marks the second of a former or current Aiken County educator in as many weeks for a sex crime.
Joseph Jay Magni Jr., 28, of the 400 block of Cannon Knoll Road, Lexington, is charged with five counts of criminal sexual conduct and five counts of a lewd act, Aiken County sheriff's Sgt. Dave Myers said in a news release.
The crimes took place at Aiken Mall Cinemas during May and June, according to the incident reports. The investigation also found that Mr. Magni sexually assaulted the 14-year-old female at his then work place, Leavelle McCampbell Middle School in Graniteville, Sgt. Myers said.
The victim was a student in Aiken County before she moved to Columbia to live with her father in April, said Richland County Sheriff's Department Lt. Chris Cowan. The sheriff's department began their investigation on Sept. 23 when the victim's father told investigators he believed that Mr. Magni was traveling to Columbia to have a relationship with his daughter, Lt. Cowan said. Investigators turned the case over to Aiken County this week, Lt. Cowan said.
Mr. Magni now faces a charge of criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the second degree in Richland County.
Mr. Magni taught social studies at Leavelle McCampbell as a first-year teacher last year, said Cecelia Davidson, Aiken County Schools associate superintendent for administration. His contract was not renewed at the end of the school year, she said.
"We had no knowledge of any complaints of this nature during his time here," Dr. Davidson said. "His not returning to employment was completely separate."
Another Leavelle McCampbell educator, Tammy Joy Key, 38, of Graniteville, was charged with four counts of lewd act and four counts of criminal sexual conduct with a 14-year-old former student on Oct. 20. The Graniteville woman is accused of having sex with a 14-year-old male student at her home and at Leavelle McCampbell, where she teaches math, between 2005 and 2006, Sgt. Myers said. She is on administrative leave from her position with pay, Dr. Davidson said. She was released on bond the night of her arrest.
The two arrests in such a short period of time are "very unusual," Sgt. Myers said.
"I feel like this is a coincidence since the incidents are years a part," he said.
Dr. Davidson said the school system would not be conducting an investigation into Leavelle McCampbell.
"These are personal issues, there's no investigation as far as the school is concerned," she said.
Mr. Magni is being held in the Aiken County Detention Center on a $100,000 bond, according to a jail official.