Gilbert man pleads guilty to sex assault charge

May 16, 2019

A convicted sex offender pleaded guilty Tuesday to several charges including a criminal sexual conduct charge stemming from an incident in Aiken County.

Christopher Jody Jennings, 47, of Gilbert, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct against a 21-year-old woman. He was sentenced by Chief Administrative Judge Frank R. Addy Jr., to 25 years in prison on both of these charges.

Jennings also pleaded guilty to carjacking and received a concurrent 20 year sentence.

The kidnapping and carjacking occurred in Lexington County and the assault occurred in Aiken County. Under South Carolina law, all three charges are classified as “no parole” offenses.

Jennings is a convicted sex offender. He has a 2005 conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct for which he received a 15 year sentence.

On Nov. 8, 2016, the victim went to pick-up food from Shealy’s Bar-B-Que in Batesburg-Leesville for her birthday dinner with her parents. After the victim did not return home, her parents attempted several times to call her and eventually drove around looking for her, according to a press release. Unable to locate their daughter, they called 911. The Batesburg-Leesville Police Department and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department began looking for the victim and her vehicle.

According to police, video surveillance captured Jennings rushing up to the victim’s SUV as she was leaving the restaurant. He is seen approaching the opened driver’s side door and forcing the victim to move to the front passenger’s seat.

According to police, Jennings threatened the victim’s life alleging he had a gun and that he has killed before. He drove her around eventually crossing county lines.

While in the town of Monetta, in Aiken County, Jennings forced the victim out of the vehicle and attempted to sexually assault her multiple times, police said. The victim was able to resist him and convinced him to stop.

Law enforcement eventually located the victim’s SUV in Batesburg-Leesville and conducted a traffic stop at which time the suspect jumped out of the vehicle and ran from the officer, according to a press release.

With the use of a K-9 officer, Jennings was apprehended a short distance away.

Batesburg-Leesville Police Department handled the investigation of this case with assistance from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department and Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.