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LANCASTER, SC (WBTV) -
A Lancaster man was arrested Saturday evening after police say he drove a car with a stolen license plate with four children in the trunk at the Lancaster Christmas parade. He says the whole thing is being blown out of proportion.
William Trey Benton, 33, of Lancaster, is charged with child endangerment, possession of stolen property, operating an uninsured motor vehicle and driving under suspension, according to a news release from the Lancaster Police Department.
Police responded to White Street around 7:50 p.m. in reference to a stolen vehicle license.
They noticed Benton driving a red Ford Crown Victoria in and out of parking spaces along the street. The license plate did not match the one assigned to the vehicle, according to the report.
Benton walked over to police when they pulled him over and said the car belonged to his grandfather.
Benton was placed under arrest when dispatchers confirmed that the tag was stolen.
While officers were arresting Benton, the trunk to the Crown Victoria popped open and four children hopped out, the youngest being 11 years old.
Police officials told WBTV on Monday morning that it appears that at least two of the children are Benton's children. Officers aren't clear if the other two children are related or just close friends.
"They were in the trunk for 'Transport Purposes' only," officials told WBTV. "No foul play there, just extremely poor judgment."
Benton who was jailed overnight in the incident, says the whole thing is being blown out of proportion.
"I've always taken care of my kids..anybody knows me knows I've always taken care of my children," Benton said. "The way they worded it, it's as if they were hogtied, bound and forced to be in there. No one was forced. It wasn't like I left them for 8 hours while I went into Wal-mart in hundred degree heat and dying back there."
On Monday afternoon, Benton told WBTV that he is a good, church-going guy who would never do anything to intentionally hurt his children.
He told WBTV's Kay Johnson that he was leaving the parade with more people than could fit into his car.
That's when his son, 14, said that he would crawl into the trunk and ride there for the five-minute trip home.
After being pulled over, the children began to crawl out of the car through the trunk.
As for the stolen tag that police pulled him over for?
He says it is a long story - but the short version is a family argument and he believes someone put the stolen tag on the vehicle and then called the police to report it as retaliation.
The Department of Social Services is reviewing the case.