Bamberg Pastor and wife face child pornography charges

A Bamberg pastor and his wife have been charged with having child pornography on their computer.

Attorney General Henry McMaster announced on Thursday July 29, that Grady Bernard Ponds, 41 and Rhonda Jean Ponds, 40 both of 71 Society Street in Bamberg, South Carolina, were arrested on Tuesday July 27 by the Attorney Generalís Office on charges of child pornography.

The Ponds are each charged with one (1) count of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor 3rd Degree, a felony offense punishable to ten (10) years imprisonment. The Ponds are charged with possessing digital images depicting children engaged in sex acts.

On December 10, 2009, a computer belonging to the couple was seized and taken to the Attorney Generalís Office for forensic examination. Files containing the pornographic images were found on that device.

Grady and Rhonda Ponds were released on $10,000 personal recognizance bonds. Ponds said that he and his wife are innocent and referred questions to his attorney. If convicted, the couple each could face up to 10-years in prison.

The Attorney General directs the stateís Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The City of Orangeburg Police Department (also a Task Force member) and the Bamberg County Sheriffís Office assisted in the case. The case will be prosecuted by the Attorney Generalís Office. McMaster stressed that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law. Bernard Ponds is Pastor of Mt. Carmel UMC in Bamberg.