Gvl Co. Council: No power to discipline sheriff

FILE: Greenville County Council meeting

As allegations of sexual harassment and assault are released against Sheriff Will Lewis, by a former employee, the county says they have no power to discipline or remove Lewis from office.

While news of allegations first was reported in August, details of the complaint was released in a lawsuit on Monday. Read and listen to recordings from that lawsuit here: Savanah Nabors Lawsuit

In an interview with Greenville County Council Chair Butch Kirven on Tuesday, he outlined council’s role in connection to the Sheriff.

Greenville County Council approves the amount of money given to the Sheriff’s Office each year, but the Sheriff’s Office is required to set their own policy and procedures.

“We really don’t have thoughts or position right now, we’re waiting on the facts to come out,” said Kirven.

7 News has requested a copy of the sexual harassment policy for the Sheriff’s Office through the Freedom of Information Act, or FOI.

The Greenville News reports that the policy requires anyone who feels they have been sexually harassed or assaulted to report to their immediate supervisor, and if they don’t feel comfortable doing that, they can report it directly to the Sheriff. To read more of that policy, click here.

In a county council meeting Tuesday night, Councilman Joe Dill told 7 News that he was “shocked, I’ve known Will a long time”.

On Tuesday, Councilman Lynn Ballard told 7 News that this is “an extreme example of very bad judgement by the Sheriff.”

Ballard went on to state, “The way business was being conducted didn’t look good, her [Savanah] being at meetings at night or on the weekend, didn’t seem right.”

We reached out to Greenville County regarding the allegations, while they would not comment on the content of the allegations, they stated “Once the County has been officially served with the lawsuit, we will review and file an appropriate answer with the court.”

When it comes to disciplining a Sheriff, there isn’t much that can be done. A Governor can only remove a Sheriff from office if there has been an indictment of a crime of moral turpitude.

If the Sheriff is removed for indictment of a crime, the Coroner fills the interim position.

If a Sheriff chooses to step down, the Governor can appoint an interim Sheriff.

The State Law Enforcement Division’s investigation into allegations of sexual assault and harassment is ongoing.

7 News has a pending FOI with SLED for the entire case file.

Solicitor Walt Wilkins has declined to review the case, due to conflict of interest. The 5th Circuit Solicitor in Richland County will review the case once SLED is finished.