New sheriff finds broader sexual harassment problem
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — The new sheriff in Greenville County has reprimanded five officers and fired two other employees after reviewing sexual misconduct complaints that led to only one suspension under his indicted predecessor.
Interim Greenville County Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown reviewed the complaints after the husband of a female deputy complained about the first investigation.
Documents obtained by The Greenville News found one dispatcher was suspended after then-Sheriff Will Lewis’ investigation found he and the woman fondling each other while at work.
Brown became sheriff after Lewis had to leave office when he was indicted for misconduct in office and obstruction of justice in April. Lewis also settled his own sexual harassment lawsuit during his tenure.
Brown said the husband told him after he took office that there was plenty of other sexual harassment and other misbehavior that wasn’t punished in his wife’s case.
“Don’t tell me these kinds of things and expect me to say, ‘Well that happened before I got here,’” Brown said. “You’re not dumping this in my lap. That I now know something about it, there’s something that’s going to be done about it.”
Brown’s investigation determined the woman was groped and sent lewd photos. He suspended several other deputies, fired the woman’s supervisor and an officer who he determined lied to investigators.
“My personal feeling is if you lie to me ... you’ll lie on a witness stand and I don’t have use for you,” Brown said.
One of the deputies suspended later by Brown for having his own affair with the woman, said in a 2018 interview using a lie detector that he was bothered by a lecture from Lewis because the former sheriff was doing “much worse himself at the same time he was setting (sic) there judging,” according to the documents obtained by the newspaper.
Lewis refused to talk about the investigation with the newspaper through his attorney. The Greenville News tried to contact several of the deputies involved and did not hear back.
Brown is creating a panel at the sheriff’s office that will talk to women about how they have been treated in the sheriff’s office and allow them to report any harassment.
Information from: The Greenville News, http://www.greenvillenews.com