Lawsuit alleges Horry County detective sexually assaulted victim; SLED investigating

Lawsuit alleges Horry County detective sexually assaulted victim; SLED investigating

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A lawsuit has been filed by a woman accusing a former Horry County Police detective of sexually assaulting her, and engaging in coercive behavior and unwanted sexual advances over a period of six months. Court documents show SLED is investigating allegations against that former detective.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a woman identified only as "Jane Doe" states that on December 25, 2013, the Plaintiff called Horry County Police to report a sexual assault by an unknown assailant. The next month, the detective assigned to the case insisted on meeting the Plaintiff at her home. The defendant is identified in the suit only as "Detective."

"Over the course of the next six months, Detective engaged in a course of coercive behavior, unwanted sexual advances, and sexual assault," the suit alleges. "On at least one occasion, the Plaintiff was sexually assaulted by Detective within a police vehicle issued by the Horry County Police Department."

The suit alleges that at all times, the detective used his county-issued vehicle, and displayed his badge and police-issued firearm, and that the "Plaintiff was unable to resist the unwanted sexual advances out of fear of retribution." The Plaintiff believes that the detective also inappropriately touched and/or sexually abused other women in connection with his employment as an investigator with HCPD.

The suit also names the Horry County Police Department as a defendant in the case for gross negligence, alleging that the department failed to properly train, hire, evaluate, and supervise the detective who allegedly assaulted the Plaintiff. The department is also faulted for allegedly failing to institute a proper policy and procedure regarding hiring officers, failing to draft a policy to ensure members of the public are safe from physical and sexual abuse, and for failing to review and check compliance with the policy.

The Plaintiff is seeking actual and consequential damages to include medical expenses, permanent impairment, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. The suit is demanding a trial by jury.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the allegations involving the now-former member of HCPD, confirmed Thom Berry with SLED. The investigation began on November 4, 2015 and is ongoing.

Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier provided the following statement:

"The county is in receipt of a copy of the complaint, which will be reviewed and processed by the legal department and responded to within the time set forth by our court rules.

"It is county policy not to provide any commentary on substantive matters relating to pending litigation."

Reporter Conor McCue is investigating this case - tune in to WMBF News this evening for his report.

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