Deputies: SLED asked to investigate claim inmates forced teen to - FOX Carolina 21

Deputies: SLED asked to investigate claim inmates forced teen to use drugs, perform sex acts

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Inmate in belt chain (Source: Wikimedia) Inmate in belt chain (Source: Wikimedia)
PICKENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A couple has filed a lawsuit against the County of Pickens and Duke Energy after they said their child was sexually abused by inmates working at an Upstate park.

According to the lawsuit, the parents said their juvenile child was working at Mile Creek Park on Keowee Baptist Church Road. The court documents claim the park, which is owned and maintained by Duke Energy, also employed inmates to perform labor.

The lawsuit states that inmates worked unsupervised near youths who were also working or visiting the Mile Creek Park. According to the lawsuit, the couple's minor child was "coerced by the inmates into using drugs, including marijuana, methamphetamines, and other drugs, and was forced and coerced into performed nonconsensual sex acts with the inmates."

Below is an excerpt from the lawsuit:

22. During the lengthy periods of time that [minor] was alone with the inmates without any supervision by the Defendants, [minor] was forced and coerced by the inmates into using drugs, including marijuana, methamphetamines, and other drugs, and was forced and coerced into performed nonconsensual sex acts with the inmates. The Defendants allowed this to occur due to the use of unsupervised inmate labor, and the Defendants did nothing to intervene to prevent the victimization of [minor] by the inmates, despite the duty and ability to do so.

23. The inmates were able to coerce [minor] into meeting up with them after hours, and at least one of the inmates coaxed [minor] to leave his home in the middle of the night to use drugs and engage in sex acts.

The lawsuit claims the father "discovered the victimization of [minor] when he found found [minor] and one of the inmates using drugs on his property."

The couple is suing for gross negligence, claiming Pickens County and Duke Energy officials failed to properly supervise inmates at the park while they were around juveniles.

FOX Carolina has reached out to Duke Energy for comment on the lawsuit.

The Pickens County Sheriff's Office said Sheriff Rick Clark submitted a request on Dec. 11 to have South Carolina Law Enforcement Division investigate the allegations. Clark said he was approached by the 16-year-old's parents in September about the allegations but was asked by the family's attorney on the next day to suspend the criminal investigation.

In November, the family informed the agency they wished to continue the investigation, Clark said.

On Dec. 12, SLED accepted the investigation and the Sheriff's Office is working to transfer their information about the case to SLED agents.

The Pickens County Sheriff's Office was initially named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but in a press release on Dec. 5, the agency said they will be dropped from the lawsuit. The Sheriff's Office said it does not manage any operations, staff or inmates at the Pickens County Stockade.

Deputies said they were informed by White, Davis and White Law Firm that the lawsuit will be amended to remove the Sheriff's Office as a defendant.

Below is the full statement from the Pickens County Sheriff's Office:

Recently, various networks including local newspapers have reported on a lawsuit filed in the 13th Judicial Court of Common Pleas against Pickens County that alleges improper supervision and conduct of inmate trustees at Mile Creek Park in Six Mile.

Details from those news stories also indicated that the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office was being named in the litigation for various reasons due to the inmates were from the Pickens County Detention Center which is under the supervision and control of the Pickens County Sheriff.

Upon learning of these allegations, the Sheriff’s Office immediately contacted the law firm representing the Plaintiff in this case and informed them that at no time were any inmate trustees from the Pickens County Detention Center ever assigned to perform any duties at Mile Creek Park.

Furthermore, the Sheriff’s Office never entered into any such agreement as alleged with any other county department as stated in the lawsuit. Inmates assigned to the detention center do not perform any work assignments offsite from the Law Enforcement Center.

After consulting with the attorney for the Plaintiff, it has been determined that the allegation is directed towards the Pickens County Prison commonly referred to as the Stockade and not the Pickens County Detention Center.

The Sheriff’s Office does not manage any of the operations, the staff or the inmate population at the Pickens County Prison and the county employees assigned to that facility are not employees of the Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office has been informed by White, Davis and White Law Firm in Anderson that the pending lawsuit will be amended and all allegations against the Sheriff’s Office will be removed.

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