Testimony begins in Seneca sex predator status case – Upstate Today | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

By Riley Morningstar

The Journal

WALHALLA — A clinical forensic psychologist testified a Seneca man who sexually assaulted an acquaintance in 2014 denied any wrongdoing in a recent interview and claimed he was framed for the crime.

Dr. Emily Gottfried of the Medical University of South Carolina took the stand in a sex predator case Monday afternoon to testify that 37-year-old Christopher Trent Wilder was likely to commit more sexually violent crimes. The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office is pushing for a jury to send Wilder to a long-term treatment facility. He recently completed a 10-year sentence for first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Riley Morningstar | The Journal
South Carolina Attorney General’s Office assistant attorney general Suzanne Shaw makes her opening statement to an Oconee County jury on Monday afternoon in a hearing for convicted sexual offender Christopher Trent Wilder.

Gottfried said she has testified more than 35 times in similar South Carolina cases and focuses on sexual offender risk assessment. She met Wilder a total of three times in January and February, saying she found him to be a pathological liar with an irritable disposition and a “profound lack of remorse.”

Wilder was “pretty glib” and superficially cooperative, with eye contact bouncing from “appropriate to intense,” Gottfried said.

Gottfried said her research showed Wilder had been charged with 72 infractions during periods of jail from 2006 to 2022, and he was convicted of about 50 of them. At times in Gottfried’s testimony, Wilder appeared to be visibly complaining to his attorney about the case.


Wilder went to the house of an acquaintance in her 50s in June 2014 with beer and began touching her, Gottfried said. He wanted to have sex, but the woman said no, leading Wilder to throw her on the floor and sexually touch her face, according to court testimony. He later digitally penetrated the woman and threatened her with a knife, Gottfried said, telling her to see how sharp the blade was.

“This is what we do to white women, we tear them up,” Wilder said, according to Gottfried’s recollection of the victim’s statements to authorities.

Wilder also threatened to kill the woman for oral sex, but reversed course in his behavior and apologized for the incident, according to Gottfried. The forensic evaluator said Wilder claimed in his interview with her that he was framed and nothing ever happened. 

“It suggests an almost inability to be truthful,” Gottfried said of the behavior.

She closed her testimony for the state by saying Wilder needed an “intensive level of treatment” and had an above-average risk to reoffend.

Opening comments

Attorney general’s office assistant attorney general Suzanne Shaw told the Oconee jury in opening statements the details of the case they would hear “are very difficult for the average person to hear.”

“They are disturbing. You will probably not like Mr. Wilder by the end of the trial, but it’s extraordinarily important that you not let your personal feelings get in the way of your good judgment in making a decision on this,” she said.

She closed by saying Wilder had served his criminal sentence, and the hearing was not about punishment.

“This case is about treatment and keeping both him and the public safe,” she said.

Defense attorney Don Thompson said jurors should be prepared for testimony today from a South Carolina Department of Mental Health expert who believes Wilder is not a threat to reoffend. 

Thompson will cross-examine Gottfried starting at 9 a.m. today.

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