Three Aiken County, South Carolina women who say they were sexually assaulted and abused by the same parole officer filed lawsuits this week against the South Carolina Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole Services (SCDPPPS) and other officials who they say failed to protect them from abuse.
The three women, referred to as Jane Doe 1, 2, and 3, filed the suit against SCDPPPS, former probation officer George Willie Yeldell, SCDPPPS Director Jerry B. Adger, and SCDPPPS employee Ashley Finch, who upervised Yeldell at the time of the incidents.
Yeldell was charged with misconduct in office earlier this year, but the recently filed lawsuit accuses Yeldell of other crimes — including sexual assault and rape — while he was on duty.
The three women were being supervised by Yeldell as a part of their sentences under SCDPPPS at the time of the assaults, according to the lawsuits. Yeldell was on duty and wearing a badge when the incidents took place.
From July 2017 through October 2019, Yeldell “used the resources and abused the power and authority of his office to sexually abuse, harass, assault, inappropriately touch, and/or rape female offenders he supervised,” including the three women who are suing, the lawsuits said.
“My clients’ status as former offenders is not a free license to strip them of their dignity and civil rights and certainly is not consent to be sexually assaulted,” said Columbia, SC attorney Tyler D. Bailey, who is representing the three women in the lawsuit. “Agent Yeldell abused his authority and took advantage of his position of power by subjecting my clients to repeated outrageous sexual abuse.”
In the lawsuits, the three women describe several sexually abusive incidents with Yeldell.
In Febuary 2019, Jane Doe 1 reported to the SCDPPPS office in Aiken, South Carolina for a scheduled meeting with Yeldell. During that meeting, Yeldell inappropriately touched her between her legs and her buttocks as she was wearing a dress, the lawsuit said.
During their next meeting at the SCDPPPS office in March 2019, Yeldell closed the door and “forcibly attempted to make Jane Doe 1 perform oral sex on him,” the lawsuit said.
In June 2019, Yeldell sexually assaulted Jane Doe 3 at his SCDPPPS office in Aiken, according to the lawsuit. He unbuttoned his pants and assaulted her “without her consent and his sexual advances were unwanted,” the lawsuit said.
Jane Doe 3 said she feared Yeldell would make her go back to jail if she reported the sexual assaults/ abuse, but eventually reported Yeldell to SCDPPPS in August 2019, according to the lawsuit.
In September 2019, Yeldell — still employed by SCDPPPS — went to Jane Doe 2‘s home in North Augusta, South Carolina, for a scheduled visit. According to the lawsuit, Yeldell asked Jane Doe 2 to show him her bedroom. When they entered her room, he shoved her on the bed, bent her over, and “requested to have sex with her,” the lawsuit said.
Even though she kept denying him, Yeldell repeatedly tried to have sex with her and sexually assaulted her without her consent, according to the lawsuit.
At one point during the incident, Yeldell told her that “her time on parole could be really easy or really hard,” the lawsuit said.
During another meeting at the Aiken SDPPPS office in September 2019, Yeldell sexually assaulted Jane Doe 2 and said, ““come ‘on, you’ve been locked up for a while and I know you want some d*ck.”
In October 2019, Jane Doe 2 was told that Yeldell no longer worked at SCDPP and she “cried in relief that she would no longer be subject to sexual assault, abuse, harassment, inappropriate conduct, and unwanted sexual advances at the behest of Agent George Yeldel,” the lawsuit said.
‘Egregious abuse of power’
Yeldell was charged with midconduct in office in May 2020 for a July 2017 incident that was not mentioned in the lawsuit. According to South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division spokesperson Tommy Crosby, SLED has not charged Yeldell with any additional crimes since he was arrested in May.
However, the investigation is still open as Yeldell is still waiting trial.
According to Bailey, the situation is far from over and he expects more lawsuits to follow.
“Unfortunately, Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2, and Jane Doe 3 are not the only individuals that were victimized by Agent Yeldell,” Bailey said. “We hope that these lawsuits blow the cover off of the dark activity taking place within the South Carolina Department of Probation, Pardon, and Parole’s organization, force the implementation of new necessary hiring, training, and supervision policies, and hold all involved parties accountable for the harm caused to my clients ensuring there are no other victims of this type of egregious abuse of power.”
The lawsuits accuse SCDPPS officials of gross negligence in failing to properly train and supervise Yeldell.
“Negligence that has caused significant negative and permanent impact on my clients’ lives,” Bailey said.