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      Former Miss SC official convicted of sex charge

      Joey Sanders, a former official with the Miss South Carolina pageant, has been convicted of committing a lewd act on a young girl.

      A former official with the Miss South Carolina pageant has been convicted of committing a lewd act on a young girl.

      Multiple media outlets reported that a Pickens County jury convicted 46-year-old Joseph Pettigrew Sanders IV on Thursday, but cleared him of a charge of second degree criminal sexual conduct.

      Sanders was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

      A co-defendant, Anita Gearhart, was convicted of illegal conduct toward a child. Prosecutors say she failed to report abuse of the child. Gearhart was sentenced to seven years in prison.

      Prosecutor Doug Richardson says Sanders fondled a 9-year-old girl on three occasions at an Easley motel beginning in 2005 and they engaged in sexual intercourse in 2008.

      Sanders took leave from the pageant organization after he was arrested in 2008.

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