SLED to investigate sexual assault claims against Pickens Co. inmate

PICKENS, SC (WSPA) – The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the State Law Enforcement Division for assistance investigating after a 16-year-old said that he was sexually assaulted by a former inmate trustee from the Pickens County Prison while working part time at Mile Creek Park.

The Sheriff’s Office says they were approached in September about the sexual assault that had happened while the victim was working alongside an inmate from the prison during the summer.

Days after the initial complaint, the family’s lawyer asked deputies to suspend their investigation for personal reasons.

Investigators were informed that the family wished to proceed with the investigation in late November, after which they interviewed the victim on December 4.

After a preliminary investigation, SLED was brought in to take over the investigation December 12 because the Sheriff’s Office has a close relationship with the Pickens County Prison and its employees.

Sheriff Rick Clark released this statement on Wednesday:

“This case contains allegations involving a juvenile that was working at a county facility in the presence of other county employees from departments within Pickens County Government.

A former inmate from the Pickens County Prison/Stockade is being accused of physically assaulting the sixteen year old while both were assigned to a work detail.

Though, I do not manage, supervise or have any authority over any of the potential witnesses or the former inmate that has been identified by the alleged victim, I feel that it would be improper for the Sheriff’s Office to proceed any further with this investigation due to our relationship with those departments and any of their employees.

As with any allegation of criminal conduct, our first obligation is to ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair and impartial manner.

It is for this reason that I feel compelled to ask for outside assistance from a neutral and detached agency to avoid any appearance of impropriety.”

A lawsuit was filed in late November by the victim’s family against Pickens County, Duke Energy, and the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office regarding the assault. The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office was later dropped from the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the victim was sexually assaulted and given drugs by inmates.