Another day in South Carolina, another sheriff has been accused of misconduct.
On Saturday, an apparent ex-girlfriend of Jasper County Sheriff Chris Malphrus posted on Facebook alleging misconduct, abuse of power and cheating.
The social media posts prompted considerable local attention, and raised questions about whether Malphrus might become the latest in a long line of South Carolina sheriffs to find himself on the receiving end of a misconduct investigation.
In the post, Angela Cleland wrote that she and the sheriff “broke up finally.”
“It was a long hard road of lies and deceit that I can no longer tolerate,” Cleland wrote in the post that she tagged Malphrus in. “Unfortunately for him, I can only be with a one-woman kind of man.”
Cleland questioned the sheriff’s ethics in the Facebook post, which was sent to this news outlet from a tipster.
“Wow, it sure is amazing that someone can claim to be such a good leader, the sheriff of our county nonetheless yet he is incapable of being honest, or faithful to ONE WOMAN,” Cleland wrote.
In addition to calling him “unfaithful,” Cleland also claimed Malphrus abused his power as a law enforcement official.
“When he comes to fight and brawl, you tell him you can no longer take it, he takes your car!” she wrote. “Then threatens you about filing a police report! What a joke! Chris Malphrus, not the man he claims to be.”
When a Facebook friend asked Cleland how he could take her car, she wrote that “the last time we had a huge fight and he was throwing things and getting crazy he took it so I had him sign a contract and had (child’s name) video it.”
“Then we got back together and he’s claiming I never made any payments and that’s why he is taking it now,” she added. “Although I was the one who has been paying all of our household bills from the get go.”
She said “the man took my car. My only form of transportation, who does that?”
Cleland also said on the post that she and the sheriff had been dating for two years.
“Mind you, I played my own part but nothing compared to what I did for him to protect his image and cater to his situation,” she wrote.
Malphrus was married when he ran for office in 2016. His wife, Carrie Malphrus, was involved in his campaign and continued to show her support after he took over as sheriff. According to an article by the Jasper County Sun Times, Chris and Carrie were still married in May 2017. In May 2018, Carrie Malphrus posted a family picture with Chris Malphrus and their two children. It is unclear if/ when Chris Malphrus divorced.
Hours after Cleland posted the allegations on Facebook, she walked her statement back and apologized.
“I’d like to publicly apologize for my weak moment earlier,” she wrote. “It seems as though a lot of people are having quite the hay day with it, sad but true. I made a very rash decision when I was in an extremely hurt position. I made the wrong choice and I can never take it back. Chris and I have been through more than any of you could ever imagine these past two years. Mostly because people believe any rumor they hear. No one knows what has happened in our household. We are and will continue to pray through this.”
Malphrus joins a long line of South Carolina sheriffs who have faced/ are facing allegations of misconduct and scandals. In the last four years, this news outlet has extensively reported on the misdeeds of sheriffs in Chester, Chesterfield, Colleton, Florence, Greenville and Laurens counties.
This news outlet also recently called for tougher punishments for misbehaving leaders in SC.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) officials said Tuesday that there were no active investigations involving Malphrus.
The Jasper County Sheriff is up for election in 2020.
Cleland is not the first person to publicly question Malphrus’ ethics. The first-time sheriff faces a slew of lawsuits since taking office in 2017.
Malphrus is the only named defendant in an August 2019 lawsuit that accused his office of false imprisonment; malicious prosecution; slander and libel; assault and battery; wrongful failure to train and supervise; and common law liability for negligence, gross negligence and recklessness.
The claims stem from the 2018 Jasper County arrest of a black man who was pulled over without probable cause, then charged and arrested, according to the lawsuit.
Malphrus was also named in a June 2019 lawsuit that accuses his officers of charging and arresting three residents with public disorderly conduct while they were attending a cookout located on private property.
According to the lawsuit, several heavily armed Jasper County deputies swarmed the heirs property without search or arrest warrants on June 16, 2017. Then the deputies aggressively displayed “military grade weapons,” deployed their attack dogs, and started “making random arrests.”
Malphrus could not be reached for comment Monday.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an award-winning journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].
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