Attorney for Greenville Co. Sheriff's Office discusses lawsuit a - FOX Carolina 21

Attorney for Greenville Co. Sheriff's Office discusses lawsuit against sheriff

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Sheriff Will Lewis gives statement on lawsuit (Oct. 19, 2017/FOX Carolina) Sheriff Will Lewis gives statement on lawsuit (Oct. 19, 2017/FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The general counsel for the Greenville County Sheriff's Office held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss the lawsuit against Sheriff Will Lewis.

Last Thursday, Lewis responded to the lawsuit, which accuses him of sexual harassment, sexual assault and violations of Civil Rights.

In the court documents, the plaintiff, Savanah Nabors, said she was hired by Sheriff Lewis shortly after he took office.  The lawsuit said her job was to follow the Sheriff everywhere he went, to record his meetings and contribute an outsider’s perspective on decision making. The court documents claim sexual harassment began almost immediately and increased over time.  The lawsuit also accuses the sheriff of sexual assault.

In a press conference last Thursday, Lewis said he had a “consensual encounter” outside of his marriage. He said the incident was deeply regrettable, but denied all allegations of criminal misconduct.

"I do want to be clear about one thing," Lewis said. "The allegations of rape and stalking, harassment - that's completely, 100 percent false."

Lewis asked for forgiveness from his deputies and privacy for his family during this time.

The State Law Enforcement Division confirmed it has an "open and active" investigation into the case, but declined to comment further.

General counsel Lance Sheek said Tuesday he is unable to comment on the allegations due to rules governing pre-trial publicity. Sheek did, however, say when a social media post purportedly written by the plaintiff surfaced online with accusations against Lewis, within an hour they contacted SLED to conduct and independent investigation.

Sheek said the agency has received a preservation letter, asking the Greenville County Sheriff's Office to retain any records related to Nabors employment, including text messages, e-mails and other documents. Sheek said these have been locked down to prevent them from being purged from their system.

Sheek said he does not believe the lawsuit has been a distraction to the employees of the Greenville County Sheriff's Office.

"The men and women of this agency have surpassed anything I could ever open for," he said.

Sheek urged the community to let the legal system "work as its designed" and then make a determination about the case at the appropriate time.

"We want fairness to all the parties," the attorney said.

Nabors' attorney released the following statement after the press conference:

"We're unable to comment on today's press conference in part because the purpose and meaning of the press conference was not entirely clear.  We continue to stand by the allegations in the complaint."

The South Carolina Sheriff's Association released the following statement:

This Association exists to serve the Sheriffs of South Carolina and enhance the Office of Sheriff in our State. We urge all Sheriffs to achieve and maintain the highest levels of professionalism, ethics, and integrity. We do not – in any way – condone any actions that are illegal, immoral, or improper. Therefore, we are currently looking in to what can be done in relation to Sheriff Lewis’s membership in this Association. It should be understood, however, that a review of the Sheriff’s membership in this Association is based solely on Sheriff Lewis’s comments, not pending civil or criminal investigations or allegations. This is the first time our Association has been confronted with a matter that could warrant suspension of membership since our Bylaws were amended in 2015 to allow such action.

Furthermore, while there is a method to suspend a Sheriff’s membership in our Association, it should also be understood that our Association can take no action that would suspend a Sheriff from elected office. The only legal method for such action is afforded to the Governor of the State based upon indictment.

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