Owner of Beaufort County ductwork company charged with an additional sex crime

Two weeks after his first bout in custody, the owner of a Beaufort County ductwork company faces a second charge of criminal sexual conduct with a minor for another alleged incident with the same young victim, according to the Bluffton Police Department and Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

Christopher Ray Donelson, 52, of Bluffton, was charged Friday morning with third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor — the man’s second accusation of child sexual abuse in two weeks.

Sheriff’s Office investigators have accused Donelson of sexually abusing a young girl “several years ago,” according to Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Maj. Angela Viens. Both charges involve the same victim.

The man’s first charge, coming April 28 from the Bluffton Police Department, claimed he inappropriately touched the girl for a period spanning six years, beginning when she was 7.

Donelson turned himself in Friday morning after learning of the new arrest warrant, Viens said.

The Bluffton businessman’s first charge came after the Department of Social Services received an anonymous tip detailing the allegations, which were confirmed by the victim during a forensic interview with the young girl. He turned himself in for this charge as well, according to previous reporting.

Bluffton police’s investigation revealed additional alleged sexual abuse that eventually led to Donelson’s second charge. Because the reported incident occurred outside of the town’s jurisdiction, the case was handed to county deputies.

Donelson, who moved to Bluffton in 2008, is the owner of Air Duct Southeast LLC (formerly Air Duct Dr LLC), which specializes in air duct and dryer vent cleaning services in Beaufort County and Savannah. The businessman’s public LinkedIn profile also names him as owner of local solar power and food delivery services.

Second- and third-degree classifications of criminal sexual conduct with children are both felonies, with second-degree counts involving sexual coercion specifically from people with authority over the child. A conviction for the second-degree offense is punishable by up to 20 years in prison under South Carolina law.

Donelson was released Friday afternoon on a $2,000 surety bond from the Beaufort County Detention Center, records show.

If you or someone you know has been affected by abuse, help can be found by calling Hopeful Horizons’ 24-hour Support Line at 843-770-1070.

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