After a 17-year-old rape allegation against The Breakfast Club host Charlamagne Tha God (born Lenard Larry McKelvey) resurfaced this week, South Carolina officials say they will not resurrect a case against him and he is presumed innocent of the crime.
South Carolina Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett A. Wilson issued a statement on Thursday (July 12), noting that criminal charges against McKelvey were resolved in 2002 pursuant to a plead agreement between him and the state. The state allowed McKelvey to plea guilty to the lesser charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and agreed to dismiss the remaining charges against him.
“The plea was negotiated because the alleged victim in the matter did not cooperate with the prosecutor,” said Wilson in a statement. “The prosecutor made this agreement because of the victim’s absence and the lack evidence available at the time. While the tools and technology of justice have evolved, in cases involving personal violence, the State must have the witness to prosecute. Too often, the key witness will not come forward in support of criminal prosecution. Trying a tough case is no problem; trying an impossible case is not ethical.”
McKelvey was accused of raping a minor at a party in 2001 when he was 22 years old. On Tuesday, the alleged victim, Jessica Reid, now 32, told The Blast she was seeking legal representation and wants to reopen a criminal case against McKelvey.
Reid was only 15 when she first brought the claims against McKelvey — allegations he has denied. Her mother, Joslyn, told The Blast that at the time, she was trying to protect her daughter from suffering and stopped the teenager from cooperating in the prosecution.
Under McKelvey’s plea deal, he was sentenced to three years of probation.
While South Carolina — where the incident took place — has no statute of limitations on criminal prosecution, Wilson said the state will not reopen this case, since a plea deal was reached.
“South Carolina law is clear that once a defendant enters plea negotiations and a plea agreement is accepted by the court, due process requires the State to honor the agreement,” she said. “We are duty bound to honor the agreement in this case. The State’s prosecution has ended and the dismissed charge against Mr. McKelvey will not be resurrected. The law presumes that Mr. McKelvey is innocent of the dismissed allegation.”
McKelvey has previously discussed the charges against him. In an interview with DJ Akademiks, he said he had thrown the party where the alleged rape took place but left early. He said that he spoke to police following the incident, since it had been his party, but since they didn’t have any other suspects they pinned it on him. He added that police DNA tests didn’t even match and that is why they reduced the charges.
This article originally appeared at Billboard.