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Crime & Courts

South Carolina Teacher-Student Sex Case: Troubling Threats, Harassment

Who is targeting former teacher?

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You never know where a story is going to take you. As time passes and new information comes to light, perceptions can change. Tables often turn. Scripts frequently flip. People also reveal themselves in their responses to crisis and tragedy. Unexpected heroes often emerge. And victims occasionally become victimizers. Perhaps the easiest way of saying it is this … all stories have layers.

And most of them are not immediately visible …

Oftentimes, stories wind up being exactly the way they first appeared on the surface … with facts neatly encapsulated and good and evil clearly delineated. More often than not, though, narratives evolve. Or at the very least they obtain depth … allowing those of us following them to gain much-needed perspective as we focus our inquiries.

Our recent coverage of a teacher-student sex scandal in the South Carolina Upstate saw this dynamic at work.

To recap: 35-year-old Katherine Folger Pelfrey of Clemson, S.C. entered an Alford plea last month on a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in connection with a sexual relationship she had with a then-16-year-old student in December 2021.

An Alford plea means a defendant maintains their innocence – but acknowledges the existence of sufficient evidence to convict them of the crime of which they stand accused.

(Click to View)

Katherine Folger Pelfrey (Facebook)

Pelfrey was also accused of sexual battery – but this more serious charge was dropped (with good reason, in my estimation). Why? Because it involves a grey area in the Palmetto State’s criminal statutes pertaining to relationships between teachers and students who have attained the age of consent – a.k.a. sixteen – essentially criminalizing consensual sexual activity between consenting adults in certain situations but not others.

As previously reported, Pelfrey’s relationship with the student was discovered – and reported – by her estranged husband, Justin Pelfrey, a detective sergeant with the Oconee County sheriff’s office. Justin Pelfrey is a graduate of The Citadel – South Carolina’s military college. He has been with Oconee County for more than a decade – rising through the ranks and receiving multiple commendations for meritorious service.

Unsurprisingly, Justin Pelfrey is not happy with his wife’s behavior. Sources familiar with last month’s court hearing told this news outlet he was “shaking with rage” as S.C. circuit court judge Alex Kinlaw Jr. sentenced his wife to probation as opposed to prison. According to our sources, Pelfrey believed his wife should have spent several years behind bars on the charges she was facing.

Upstate law enforcement sources close to the erstwhile couple have expressed fear for the safety of everyone involved in this case – citing Justin Pelfrey’s alleged “combustibility” in the aftermath of the plea agreement.

That’s not the only reason, though. According to documents obtained by this news outlet, Katherine Pelfrey has reportedly been on the receiving end of extensive harassment – and threats – in the aftermath of her case becoming public.

Earlier this year, Pelfrey called the Clemson, S.C. police department in response to “harassing letters” she had been receiving – part of what certainly appears to be a sustained campaign of intimidation against her.



According to an incident report obtained by this news outlet, in January 2022 Pelfrey’s neighbors “all received a letter with no return address” – a letter that went into considerable detail about the allegations against her. At the time, Pelfrey was “not overly concerned as there was not a direct threat in these letters.”

On December 12, 2022, another letter was sent to the neighborhood. According to police, this letter contained “a mugshot of Pelfrey” along with an image of her residence. It warned them “a predator is still living in the neighborhood and to make sure families are watching their kids.”

Three days later, on December 15, 2022, things turned ominous. On that date, Pelfrey’s sister opened a letter addressed to Katherine Pelfrey from an individual using the name James Fairbanks. For those of you unfamiliar with his story, on May 14, 2020 Fairbanks murdered sex offender Mattieo Condoluci – shooting him multiple times in Condoluci’s home in Omaha, Nebraska after Condoluci answered the door to his residence.

Fairbanks confessed to the crime and was sentenced to 40-70 years in prison.

The letter attributed to Fairbanks contained some truly disturbing language.

“Your time will come and you will be punished for what you have done to that child,” the author told Katherine Pelfrey. “You should and will suffer for the hell you have created.”

"I have not forgot about you and have been keeping a very close eye on you,” the letter continued. "That feeling you get when the hair stands up on the back of your neck should tell you that I am close.”

The letter concluded with images of Pelfrey’s home - along with a picture of her and mother during a recent walk in their neighborhood.

Pelfrey told police she received multiple text messages alluding to these letters. Also, a few weeks after the letters were sent Pelfrey’s dogs were allegedly poisoned.

"(She) is afraid that whoever is sending these letters will cause her or her dogs injury again,” a police report noted.

No arrests have been made in connection with the threats made against Katherine Pelfrey - or the alleged poisoning of her animals.

This news outlet has submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Clemson police department in the hopes of obtaining additional incident reports related to this case. We are also encouraging agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to take a leadership role in this investigation given the fact Katherine Pelfrey’s estranged husband - a sworn law enforcement officer - is so closely connected to it. SLED should also investigate whether Justin Pelfrey used taxpayer resources at any point during his bid to hold his estranged wife accountable for her actions with the 16-year-old student.

Pelfrey recently had a meeting with Oconee County sheriff Mike Crenshaw regarding his alleged "combustibility” over this matter, according to my sources.

Count on this news outlet to continue following this story as it unfolds ...



Will Folks on phone
Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.



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Dr. Faucius April 17, 2023 at 2:53 pm

If she were a man, they’d send her to Sing Sing (understandably).

Her cisgender female privilege protected her.

Look Around April 18, 2023 at 8:00 am

It sounds as though she is not the real danger to society but someone else is.

BES April 18, 2023 at 10:56 pm

Once again…accused educator with nothing listed under the SC Department of Education Orders of Disciplinary Action. Did the district not report this to the state DOE? Even if it was not illegal, it seems to meet the criteria for an action against her licence.

Fits should look into the criteria for districts reporting incidents and does anything happen if they don’t. Some districts seem more interested in reporting teachers who quit mid-year than for issues that endanger students (on a different level). Another reason people may not want to be teachers…look at how the lack of professionalism is addressed (though, it is a plus that SC makes those records available online so the public can check).

Tall Tales by Wyse and Folk April 19, 2023 at 11:05 pm

It’s funny that the information that is being used as a “source” is actually from a report that Mr. Pelfrey provided himself to the solicitors office. The one thing that you forgot to mention from the report was that Mr. Pelfrey as well as his Sheriff also received letters. Mr. Folks isn’t it true that Solicitor Catherine Anderson Wyse is your source? Wasn’t she the prosecutor over Katherine Pelfrey’s case? Why do your articles say he was “shaking with rage” when the rest of us saw him holding back tears? Have you asked yourself what the motive of your source is? May need to get those additional “layers” before your next article. Just a thought.

Circus Clowns April 19, 2023 at 11:47 pm

That’s the 13th Circus Solicitors Office for ya. Walter Wilkins must have taught her a thing or two. Some may have forgot about the gun he took out of evidence in a pending case that was “stolen”. Ruined part of the case and he turns around and bashes the prosecutor over the case. Maybe people will wisen up next election.

Circus Clowns ?? April 19, 2023 at 11:42 pm

@Tall Tales By Wyse and Folks

That’s fits the 13th Circus Solicitors Office to a T. Walter Wilkins must have taught her a thing or two. Some may have forgot but he ruined a case when he took a gun out of evidence in a pending case and then it was “stolen”. Instead of owning his mistake he bashed the prosecutor who was trying the case.


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