Suspended Greenville county, South Carolina sheriff Will Lewis appeared in an Upstate courtroom on Wednesday afternoon – part of a hastily called hearing aimed at determining the admissibility of certain evidence in his upcoming criminal trial on a host of public corruption charges.
Judge G. Thomas Cooper Jr. presided over the hearing, but did not issue a ruling on its merits – which focused on the admissibility of evidence related to 25-year-old Savannah Nabors, the woman whose allegations against Lewis two years ago set in motion the chain of events we are now witnessing.
Cooper told attorneys he expected to issue a ruling no later than Thursday, October 17. Lewis’ trial is set to begin on Monday, October 21. He is currently facing misconduct in office, obstruction of justice and perjury charges related to the Nabors scandal, most of which broke exclusively on this news outlet.
Lewis’ attorney, Rauch Wise, is seeking to exclude testimony related to the disgraced sheriff’s alleged rape of Nabors during a taxpayer-funded business trip to Charlotte, North Carolina in March of 2017.
“This man, who is twice my age, (who) 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 wrote in the post. “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.”
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Nabors expanded on these allegations in a bombshell civil lawsuit filed against Lewis (and Greenville county government) in October of 2017. In that lawsuit, she graphically detailed the rape allegation – claiming she was drifting in and out of consciousness as Lewis had his way with her.
“(She) remembers regaining consciousness when the Sheriff was on top of her, having sex with her,” the lawsuit claimed. “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 the hearing on Wednesday in Greenville county, S.C. sixteenth circuit solicitor Kevin Brackett referenced these allegations and played several incriminating audio tapes originally submitted along with Nabors’ civil lawsuit – tapes which clearly revealed Lewis attempting to further an affair with her on the taxpayer dime.
One such recording captured Lewis plotting a romantic getaway for the two of them (using taxpayer funds) to a law enforcement conference in Reno, Nevada. In another recording, Lewis is heard attempting to coax Nabors into traveling with him to Reno.
“You wanna go to Reno?” Lewis asked Nabors on the recording.
“If I got a chance yeah I wanna go anywhere I can go,” she responded.
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Lewis (above) then said 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 to call the trip off.
“Well I’m probably not going to go then,” he said.
Lewis’ conduct on these tapes struck us as “a textbook example of misconduct in office,” and prompted us to call for his resignation in October of 2017.
“It is abundantly clear that Lewis plotted to defraud taxpayers as part of his efforts to advance an affair with Nabors – secure in the knowledge that no one would ever find out about his scheming,” we wrote.
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According to Brackett (above) these tapes – and the testimony Nabors could provide in the upcoming criminal trial – highlighted the extent to which Lewis’ attempt to defraud Greenville taxpayers revolved around his relationship with her. He also made it clear he had no intention of accusing Lewis of rape – merely that he believed Nabors’ testimony and the evidence she submitted in connection with her civil case highlighted Lewis’ alleged misconduct in office and waste of taxpayer money.
“I’m not in the business of alleging things I cannot prove,” Brackett said at one point during the two-hour hearing.
However, Brackett did repeatedly reference Lewis’ alleged sexual assault against Nabors – and the fact she claimed to have “blacked out” after consuming an alcoholic beverage provided to her by the suspended lawman.
U.S. district court judge Donald Coggins dismissed the civil lawsuit Nabors filed a year ago after the parties to the action – Nabors, Lewis and Greenville county taxpayers – reached an undisclosed agreement. Roughly $100,000 of the $200,000 owed to Nabors in connection with that agreement was paid by Greenville county taxpayers.
Last week, the case made news when it was revealed S.C. state representative Bruce Bannister – whose law firm previously employed both Lewis and Nabors – attempted to negotiate the suspended sheriff’s resignation not long after Nabors story first broke.
According to our sources, Bannister was negotiating with Lewis on behalf of some influential Upstate businessmen.
Our view? We believe Nabors’ testimony and evidence is critical to the state’s case against Lewis – and directly relevant to the allegations against him. We believe Cooper will ultimately come to that conclusion.
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