Judge won’t reduce bond for former Upstate officer accused of rape
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A former Travelers Rest police officer accused of rape while on duty was denied a bond reduction on Friday morning.
Gerard Hildebrandt was arrested in April after an investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) resulted in charges for criminal sexual conduct and misconduct in office. Officials said he assaulted a woman after pulling off the road onto the campus of Travelers Rest High School in July 2022.
Bakari Sellers, an attorney with Strom Law Firm representing the woman who came forward about Hildebrandt, described the incident as “very violent.”
“He violated this woman’s trust and took her to a dark area and raped her,” Sellers said. “He raped her on her car.”
The chief of police in Travelers Rest fired Hildebrandt when he learned of the allegations and asked SLED to conduct an independent investigation. According to records from the Criminal Justice Academy, Hildebrandt admitted to engaging in sexual activity while on the job but said it was consensual. The victim’s claims are supported by body camera footage, physical evidence and witness statements, according to SLED warrants.
During the hearing at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Hildebrandt’s defense asked for his bond to be reduced, saying the allegations were unbelievable and “totally out of character” for him. They argued he is not a flight risk and was working in insurance after being terminated from the police department, but has since been fired from that job as well.
However, a victim’s advocate in court said the details of the allegations against Hildebrandt were “egregious,” and he tried to contact her the day after the assault on social media. The victim is in “absolute fear,” according to the representative.
“You call police to serve and protect,” Sellers said in a press conference after the hearing. “I don’t think it says serve, protect and rape.”
A judge denied the appeal for a bond reduction. Hildebrandt continues to be held on a $150,000 bond.
Sellers said he believes there may be other people who have been victimized by Hildebrandt.
“We hope that those victims can see themselves in her, her strength, her fortitude, and we’re encouraging them to come forward as well,” he said.
Records obtained by FOX Carolina show Hildebrandt was fired from the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office for violating their use of force policy three months before being hired in Travelers Rest. Sellers said he hopes this prompts agencies to review their hiring practices.
The Strom Law Firm plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the victim. Stay with FOX Carolina for updates on this developing story.
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