Earlier this month, our news outlet reportedly exclusively on the arrest of scandal-scarred Colleton county, South Carolina sheriff R.A. Strickland by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Strickland has been charged with second-degree domestic violence in connection with an alleged assault against a yet-to-be-identified female victim.
On Thursday, a grand jury formally indicted Strickland – meaning he is automatically suspended from office pending the outcome of the charge filed against him.
Strickland has already placed himself on a “leave of absence” in the aftermath of the alleged assault, however the statutory suspension will remove him from office indefinitely and specifically govern the interactions he is allowed to have with deputies and staff while his case is adjudicated.
As a result of Strickland’s suspension, S.C. governor Henry McMaster was called upon to appoint an interim sheriff to serve in his stead – something he has had to do on multiple occasions over the past year in response to a rash of bad behavior from local law enforcement leaders.
McMaster chose SLED lieutenant Charles Lytie Ghent, 42, of Edisto Beach, S.C. to serve in that role “until Strickland is acquitted, convicted, the indictment is otherwise disposed of, or until a sheriff is elected and qualifies in the next general election.”
According to a probable cause affidavit accompanying a warrant for his arrest, Strickland assaulted his victim by “punching her in the face, with a closed fist, more than once, which caused moderate bodily injury.”
The victim also “sustained a defensive injury to her arm in an attempt to protect her face,” according to the affidavit (.pdf).
(Click to view)
(Via: Colleton County Sheriff’s Office)
Strickland is also accused of preventing the woman from calling for help by taking her cell phones away from her – and causing damage to her vehicle as she attempted to flee the scene of the alleged assault, which is said to have taken place at around 10:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, November 7, 2019.
This news outlet has been furnished with the name of the alleged victim in this case, however we are declining to publish it at this time. We can confirm, however, that the woman is known to sources in Colleton county as a local government official – one who has reportedly been involved in a long-term romantic relationship with the sheriff (one of several alleged extramarital dalliances in which he is embroiled, it would appear).
We have also learned that the alleged victim was recently named in connection with an investigation into Strickland’s rumored misuse of taxpayer funds. The status of that investigation remains unclear, although it has been alleged that Strickland – like former Greenville county sheriff Will Lewis – may have used tax dollars to further an extramarital affair.
Strickland has been putting on a clinic of bad decision-making in recent years. In addition to the questionable expenses and allegations of affairs, he has threatened subordinates politically and engaged in petty turf wars with other law enforcement agencies.
Strickland, 40, is married with two children. A Democrat, he was elected sheriff in 2012 and reelected in 2016. He is facing several challengers in his bid for a third term in 2020.
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