‘Parent’s worst nightmare,’ Myrtle Beach handler of child trafficking victim gets prison

·4 min read
Adam Benson/The Sun News

Two men convicted of organizing and managing the sex trafficking of an Horry County girl for more than year will each spend decades in federal prison after a judge on Thursday called them both “monsters.”

“I haven’t had a more serious offense in my 2 1/2 years on the bench sentencing a defendant,” U.S. District Court Judge Sherri Lydon said in ordering that 26-year-old Hart William Grow, of Surprise, Arizona, spend 27 1/2 years behind bars. “You have revealed yourself to be a monster and every parent’s worst nightmare.”

Grow was charged last year with conspiracy to sexually traffic a minor, sexual trafficking of a minor, conspiracy to produce child pornography and to coerce and entice a minor, four counts of production of child pornography involving two victims, four counts of coercion and enticement of a minor involving two victims, and possession of child pornography.

A soft-spoken former pharmacist with no criminal record who at one point was making $40,000 a year, Grow was painted by prosecutors as the mastermind of a scheme involving several young girls including one from Myrtle Beach who fell in love with “Hannah,” one of Grow’s many online personas.

Myrtle Beach sex trafficking victim, family speak

For more than a year, “Hannah” would pull the victim away from her close-knit family, convincing her that relatives no longer loved her.

It almost destroyed the young woman, she testified in court Thursday.

“It’s as if my body was made into a husk,” she said during a victim impact statement. “I was convinced my mother hated me even though she’s the biggest supporter in my life ... None of you deserve forgiveness.”

The victim recently graduated high school and is on track for college, but her mother told the court through tears that it’s unlikely the family’s anguish will ever go away.

“Our daughter’s healing process is far, far from over,” she said. “There are reminders of past behavior and trauma all around her.”

Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit with “WCDC” emblazoned on the back — Grow has been in custody at the Wiliamsburg County Detention Center — he tearfully apologized to his victims and their families.

“The morning of my arrest, I was set free from my lies and destructive behavior,” he said. “I do not revel in what I did. In truth, I hate myself for what I’ve done, and I agree I deserve to be punished.”

Through advertising his victim on message boards and social media, Grow met Timothy Bye, a 37-year-old Myrtle Beach resident who previously worked as a military paramedic.

According to prosecutors, Bye would become the victim’s “handler” locally, shepherding her to hotel rooms in the greater Myrtle Beach area for sexual liaisons that would be recorded and sent to Grow.

The sex acts often involved violence and degradation.

Bye was sentenced Thursday to 22 years in federal prison. He was charged with conspiracy to sexually traffic a minor, sexual trafficking of a minor, conspiracy to produce child pornography and to coerce and entice a minor, two counts of production of child pornography, two counts of coercion and enticement of a minor, and possession of child pornography.

Realizing the victim was underage, Bye was in the “best position” to help her, Lydon said. Instead, he shopped her around and even sneaked into her house.

Second tormentor apologizes

“You wrote ‘worthless’ on her,” Lydon said. “You tied her to her childhood bed. You choked her. You hit her. It’s so very, very cruel what you did to her. I believe you’re every bit the monster as Grow is.”

Prosecutors read excerpts from pre-sentencing reports that included graphic depictions of what was done to the victim by both men, as she sat shaking on a bench with her family.

“Either one could have put a stop to this, but they teamed up,” assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Shoemake said. “This young woman was treated like a plaything.”

Bye also apologized ahead of his sentencing.

“I don’t think there’s any coming back from this,” he said. “There’s no amount of time I’ll spend in jail that I won’t regret this.”

Two other men, 28-year-old Sanadin Mohamad Elrayes and Charles Joseph Spillane, 44, both of Myrtle Beach, were expected to be sentenced Thursday for up to five years each for recording themselves having sex with the victim.

Horry County has led South Carolina in reported human trafficking cases for three years in a row, with 19 in 2021.

Lydon said the lengthy prison sentences for Bye and Grow ensure “the children of South Carolina are safe.”

“I’ve never had more difficulty reading the factual account of a crime,” she said. “I won’t forget it. To have so little regard for another human being, particularly children, is shocking. You robbed these girls of their dignity, and you did revel in that.”