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Witness says father masturbated in front of child

Mary Peale Graham (Source: MBPD) Mary Peale Graham (Source: MBPD)
Bennie Graham (Source: MBPD) Bennie Graham (Source: MBPD)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The Myrtle Beach Police Department has arrested a husband and wife for unlawful neglect of a child after officers determined their child was living in unsafe conditions Sunday.

According to a police report, an officer conducted a follow-up investigation to a previous complaint. Upon arrival, the officer met with two witnesses, who stated they wanted to call police to report what Mary Peale Graham and her husband, Bennie Graham had told them.

One witness told police when the Grahams were evicted from their home about six months ago, they moved to a residence along Canal Street in Myrtle Beach. According to the witness, Mary Graham visited her often, and told the witness her husband, Bennie Graham, masturbated in the bed in front of their child.

The witness also said Mary Graham asked for a ride to the doctor four months ago because her child had a diaper rash. The witness told police her truck was not working at the time, and instead gave Graham two tubes of diaper rash medicine. The child reportedly would cry every time someone went to change her diaper.

According to the report, the witness took Mary Graham and her daughter to the Little River Medical Center for what the witness thought could be the same diaper rash from four months ago. At that time, Mary Graham allegedly told the witness Bennie Graham continued to perform sexual acts on himself in front of their child.

Around Feb.17, Bennie Graham allegedly became intoxicated and left Mary Graham home alone with their daughter. According to the witness, Mary Graham came to the witness' home, "crying uncontrollably" and said she was unable to take care of her daughter while her husband was gone.

The witness told police the child had on just a t-shirt and a diaper, and was cold when picked up.

Allegedly, Bennie Graham told the witness his daughter was a "refabrication of his deceased ex-girlfriend", and his daughter was named after her.

Mary Graham, however, told the witness she thought the child was named after Bennie Graham's mother.

According to the report, the officer decided the child should be place into emergency protective custody. Photographs were taken of the child, and a third witness took the child to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, where a doctor noted an injury on the child, but was unable to determine the cause.

Both Mary and Bennie Graham have been charged with unlawful neglect of a child. According to online booking records with J. Reuben Long Detention Center, Bennie Graham's bond has been set at $50,000 and Mary Graham's bond has been set at $10,000.

The case remains under investigation.

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