SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WYFF) - A former South Carolina pastor who was arrested earlier this year on child sex charges is headed to prison, according to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.
Phillip Jerard Buckson, 32, of Boiling Springs, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor 11 to 14 years old in Spartanburg County, according to the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office.
He was sentenced to 20 years, suspended to 10 years and 5 years of probation, must register as a sex offender, and can have no contact with the victim. Two charges were dismissed.
Buckson was a formerly senior pastor at Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church, according to the church website.
A news release from authorities in February said an investigation began Jan. 30, when a Spartanburg Sheriff’s Office investigator assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received two tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Investigators said the girl was found and gave a detailed statement to investigators about her involvement with Buckson.
The girl said she had sexual intercourse with Buckson many times in multiple locations starting when she was 13. She said she became pregnant twice and had abortions to terminate the pregnancies.
Investigators said that once he was taken into custody, Buckson gave a full confession to the allegations.
According to the church’s website at the time of his arrest, Buckson was born and raised in Gaffney and attended Spartanburg Methodist College, where he played basketball.
Buckson served as one of the coordinators for the Cherokee County School Curriculum Council, the website says. He previously served as pastor at Pine Grove Baptist Church in Iva.
He had been senior pastor at Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church in Spartanburg since 2014.