Well guess what: It has fallen …
Multiple law enforcement personnel in the Upstate tell us agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) descended upon the Greenville County sheriff’s office on Tuesday morning – armed with warrants for Lewis’ arrest. Meanwhile, court records filed with the S.C. thirteenth circuit solicitor’s office indicated that misconduct in office and obstruction of justice charges had been filed against Lewis on Tuesday morning.
That’s consistent with our exclusive reporting last week regarding the status of the ongoing SLED investigation into the embattled sheriff. Having been formally indicted on these charges, Lewis is now automatically suspended from office – although we expect South Carolina governor Henry McMaster (who is campaigning for reelection in Greenville, S.C. today) to make a big deal of this announcement.
Nonetheless, Lewis’ suspension is statutory and effective from the moment an indictment is issued – meaning the governor (who has been trying to come up with a way to suspend Lewis for months) has no discretion in the matter.
Similarly, if Lewis is convicted of one of these crimes – or of other crimes he may be charged with in the future – his removal from office is also a matter of statute.
McMaster did, however, get to appoint U.S. Marshall Johnny Mack Brown as interim sheriff to manage the department while the charges against Lewis are pending.
Incidentally, Lewis’ prosecution will not be handled by the thirteenth circuit due to previously announced (yet undisclosed) conflicts cited by local solicitor Walt Wilkins. Instead, the case will be prosecuted by S.C. sixteenth circuit solicitor Kevin Brackett – who inherited it earlier this month after conflicts arose with S.C. fifth circuit solicitor Dan Johnson.
Johnson’s office was originally referred the Lewis file – although he’s facing a category five legal and political scheissesturm.
Here is the official statement from Brackett’s office announcing Lewis’ indictment …
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(Via: S.C. Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor)
A very important line to take note of from Brackett’s statement?
That the Lewis matter “is an active and ongoing investigation and additional charges are possible at some point in the future.”
Based on what our sources have told us, additional charges are all but assured.
How did we get here?
Lewis, 42, is facing assorted criminal probes and a civil lawsuit stemming from his alleged sexual assault of 24-year-old Savannah Nabors, his former assistant in the sheriff’s office.
On August 31, 2017 this news site published an exclusive report detailing the allegations made by Nabors – which were originally made via a blog post she entitled “A Letter to the Sheriff’s Next Sexual Assault Victim.”
“He’s a church-going man, strong in his faith,” Nabors wrote in the since-deleted blog post. “You think he could never be capable of something so manipulative, so hypocritical. The man that you think is legal, ethical, and moral is anything but those things.”
(Click to view)
“This man, who is twice my age, that I looked to for protection … used his power, his authority in his position, and the trust that he had built to coerce me into allowing him into my hotel room on a business trip out of town,” Nabors (above) continued. “He forced himself on me. He took advantage of me. He brainwashed me from the moment I met him. It was all a set up. It was all for this moment where he took every last piece of me. And I had nowhere to run.”
“I couldn’t call 9-1-1,” Nabors wrote. “He was ‘9-1-1.’”
“Every time I rejected him my job, my benefits and my title were threatened,” she added, referring to a pattern of alleged harassment on the part of the sheriff that lasted from the moment she was hired to the moment she resigned.
Nabors’ blog post accused Lewis of drugging and raping her during a taxpayer-funded business trip to Charlotte, North Carolina in March of 2017 – an allegation that is currently under investigation by the Charlotte-Mecklenberg police department
Last October, Nabors detailed these allegations further in a bombshell civil suit – news of which was also exclusively reported by our site.
According to Nabors’ pleading, Lewis came to her hotel room shortly before midnight on March 7, 2017 to retrieve some alcohol he had entrusted to her care earlier in the day. Upon entering her room, Lewis is alleged to have poured each of them a glass “of what appeared to be a brown liquor.”
“(Nabors) had a few sips of her drink, and she began to feel uncomfortable,” the complaint alleges. “(She) does not recall the Sheriff drinking any of the drink that he poured for himself.”
Nabors then claimed to have resisted several romantic advances made by Lewis, who allegedly told her “that she needed to relax.” At that point, Nabors claimed she “began to slip in and out of consciousness.”
Here is the key excerpt from Nabors’ pleading …
(Nabors) remembers regaining consciousness when the Sheriff was on top of her, having sex with her. It took (her) a second to realize what was happening and she had no idea how long it had gone on. The Sheriff asked (her) if she was ready for him to “finish,” and (she) said yes. The Sheriff then giggled, making a joke about how long he could “last,” and added that he was sure (Nabors) was not used to that. (Nabors) then lost consciousness again.
In addition to the seismic sexual assault allegations (Lewis is accused of committing another sexual assault on Nabors in the same hotel the following day), Nabors’ lawsuit contained numerous audio recordings of her and Lewis. In one of these recordings, Lewis discussed his plans to further an affair with her on the taxpayer dime – and cover it up.
“You wanna go to Reno?” Lewis asked Nabors on one of the recordings, referring to a national sheriff’s association conference.
“If I got a chance yeah I wanna go anywhere I can go,” she responded.
Lewis then told Nabors he would have to see “what the county will pay for” as it related to hotel rooms for the trip.
“I’m fine with it if the county’s only gonna pay for one room,” he told Nabors.
“I don’t see how that’s gonna work,” Nabors replied. “That’s too risky if somebody were to find out.”
“Ain’t nobody gonna find out – because nobody is going to be out there from South Carolina,” Lewis responded. “Nobody is going to find out. That’s the whole point.”
Nabors continued to demur, prompting Lewis (below, center) to tell her he was calling off the trip.
(Click to view)
“Well I’m probably not going to go then,” Lewis told Nabors.
Based on Lewis’ blatant attempt to expend taxpayer resources in the furtherance of a romantic relationship, last October we were the first media outlet in the state to call for his resignation. Our call was soon echoed by the governor’s office and by Lewis’ employers on Greenville county council.
Investigators have extensively reviewed Nabors’ recordings, we’re told, which document his harassing behavior.
In one of the recordings, the sheriff makes a reference to Nabors serving “at his pleasure.”
“Ultimately if you work at the sheriff’s office, you work at the pleasure of the sheriff,” he told her during a conversation on April 20, 2017.
In another recording dated April 24, 2017, Nabors told Lewis she felt “manipulated” by him.
“I have in no way manipulated you – or tried to,” Lewis responded. “My manipulation is very, very different. It’s devious and it’s evil. I manipulate people and I do that for the advantage of myself only, not for a relationship … I am completely capable of manipulating you. I choose not to.”
We expect that statement to come back and bite Lewis … especially in light of what investigators appear to have uncovered regarding his office’s obstruction of their probe.[timed-content-server show=”2018-Jan-17 00:00:00″ hide=”2018-May-18 00:00:00″]
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Nabors could be facing problems of her own, though.
As we exclusively reported earlier this month, Nabors is accused of reaching out to Greenville master deputy Chad Ayers in October of last year and threatening to expose an alleged relationship between the two of them if he failed to support her.
“You need to be on my side with this,” Nabors allegedly wrote to Ayers in a text message.
Nabors is then alleged to have sent Ayers screen captures of their old text message threads – which reportedly contained incriminating messages and images documenting their tryst.
“I wonder what the Sheriff will say when he sees these?” Nabors allegedly asked Ayers.
The obvious implication? That Nabors’ incriminating information could result in Ayers being fired if he didn’t support her.
In late November of last year, a sergeant with the Greenville sheriff’s office reportedly told SLED investigators that Nabors was “very flirtatious” with the men under his command. Not only that, the sergeant reportedly stated that despite his best efforts to keep Nabors away from attractive male officers, she “still ended up sleeping with one of his guys” – whom he later identified as Ayers.
Additionally, the sergeant reportedly revealed that Ayers had “showed him a picture of a female in underwear” – a woman believed to be Nabors.
In February of this year, Ayers is said to have forked over tons of incriminating screen shots to investigators documenting his history with Nabors – and her alleged efforts to get him “to be on (her) side.”
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