Today, Union County, S.C. Sheriff David Taylor confirmed what sources told this news outlet yesterday — he’s retiring at the end of his term this year and not seeking re-election.
The third-term sheriff’s announcement comes two days after Taylor insulted FITSNews for breaking the story on his alleged sexcapades tied to an embezzlement scheme, which were detailed in a recently concluded South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigation.
In his statement, Taylor said “at times” he failed the public, his family and himself.
“I apologize for my failures and the negative publicity that I have brought to the Union County Sheriff’s Office, our employees, and deputies,” he said. “Publication of this information has reopened old woulds for many involved.”
Though SLED’s investigation did not yield any criminal charges, details revealed in the investigation were shocking and have prompted officials to take action.
Frank Hart, Union County supervisor, said in a video posted Tuesday on the Union County News Facebook page that he told the sheriff he needs to resign. Hart will be meeting with county council to review the SLED report and take an official position on the sheriff.
“I believe the report shows behavior on the part of the sheriff which is not proper and negatively reflects on the sheriff’s office and Union County,” Hart said in the video.
In his statement, Taylor said SLED’s report “revealed flaws,” which were corrected before the report was complete.
SLED began investigating the sheriff’s office at Taylor’s request in 2018, when there was missing money from a fundraiser.
Throughout the course of its investigation, SLED found several errors in multiple accounts – including an estimated $76,000 missing from a sex offender registry account and $50,000 from a drug seizure account that was “unaccounted for,” according to an investigative report obtained by this news outlet under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
But the investigation took a strange turn when Taylor’s administrative assistant Kimberly Riddle Bailey committed suicide after she was interviewed by SLED.
“The untimely death of Kim Riddle Bailey is the most tragic part in this story,” Taylor said in his Wednesday statement.
Questioned extensively about other accounts at the sheriff’s office, Bailey acknowledged cashing some checks inappropriately, but denied other allegations of embezzlement/ misappropriation. According to the report, Bailey told investigators:
- She and Taylor “engaged in extramarital affairs” and and “on one occasion … called her into his office, pulled his pants down, and made a comment about how much weight he had lost.”
- Taylor asked her on to use her personal credit card to pay for office expenses – including “travel for extraditions, hotels for travel and training, rental cars, and any other expenses for out of town travel.”
- Taylor told her to “use her personal card because the county did not have a card to use.”
After Bailey committed suicide in March 2018, SLED investigated her death and found a journal where she talked about the embezzlement probe and the sheriff. According to the investigation, agents found the following in the journal:
- Bailey wrote how disappointed she was in herself after she was questioned by SLED
- Bailey wrote that “there is no perfect timing to get caught and yes I am guilty.”
- In one entry, she claimed Taylor was “drunk” and texted her “about his homosexual black relationships.”
- She also claimed he told her he was having an ongoing affair with a female and “not to tell his wife.”
A sheriff’s office major also told SLED he had “observed sexually explicit messages and a penis image on a county-issued cell phone that was previously utilized by Sheriff Taylor.”
Dozens of sexually explicit messages sent to a female deputy from Taylor’s county phone were also reviewed in the investigation.
During the investigation, another former deputy told SLED agents he used a Union County phone to record Taylor “having sexual intercourse” with a female subordinate.
The SLED report is littered with references to these messages – as well as numerous references to deputies noticing the smell of alcohol on Taylor’s breath or “on his person” while he was conducting official county business.
Sheriff’s response to allegations
In Taylor’s Wednesday statement, he said he saw “no need to report to each and every sensational allegation and statement referenced in the report.”
“These allegations, hearsay, and rumors – some true, some exaggerated, some outrageous, some I never heard of and many false- were matters that, if true, were dealt with internally and in my home in some cases several years ago.
Taylor said his decision to retire after 12 years as sheriff came after discussions with his family.
On Monday, Taylor bashed FITSNews for its detailed report on the investigation.
“As of right now the only thing I know is what has been said by an outfit that is not even a news agency,” the sheriff told the Union County News, referring to FITSNews.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our stories? We have an open microphone policy! Submit your own letter to the editor (or guest column) via-email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.