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Judge orders release of documents alleging sexual misconduct in HCPD

Source: WMBF News Source: WMBF News

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – An Horry County judge ruled in favor of the lawyer behind a lawsuit against the Horry County Police Department and the county itself, and ordered the release of personnel files and records about reported sexual assaults.

The order follows a Monday hearing in the case of Jane Doe versus Horry County and the Horry County Police Department.

In the order, the defendants were directed to produce copies of personnel and training files of Christopher Peterson and Todd Cox, both of whom worked for the HCPD.

The judge also ordered the release of copies of any and all citizen complaints pertaining to unwanted sexual advanced and/or sexual assaults by any HCPD member, as well as copies of all internal affairs files related to any complaints, from Jan. 1, 2006 to the present, according to the order.

Cox was one of the four former HCPD officers indicted last week by an Horry County grand jury. Cox was indicted on 16 counts of misconduct in office.

"The indictments allege Cox knowingly closed cases without proper investigation and knowingly unassigned himself from cases allowing them to remain unassigned for a period of time," according to the release from the South Carolina Attorney General's office.

Horry County records show Cox first started working at the Horry County Police Department in 1996 and stopped working in May 2015. His last title was detective and his salary was between $45,000 and $49,000.

A disciplinary report said between July 2011 and November 2012, Cox was refusing to do work, was working inefficiently and was also dishonest by knowingly falsifying records while employed.

In July 2013, Cox was demoted from senior detective to patrol officer and lost five percent of his pay as a result of the disciplinary action.

A termination letter from July 2015 shows Peterson was fired the day before Allen Large, who was recently indicted on six counts of misconduct in office and five counts of criminal sexual conduct and is also the subject of several lawsuits from anonymous 'Jane Doe' victims. was terminated.

That letter said Peterson was texting and flirting with someone around July 3, 2015 after that person filed a police report and then he arranged a meeting with that person while on duty, which resulted in inappropriate conduct.

Peterson had previously been disciplined in January 2015 for texting someone in December 2014 after that person filed a report. Although the text conversation was mutual, it was not in the best interest of Horry County, according to the disciplinary report.

Jane Doe's lawyer said Cox and Peterson are considered witnesses in the lawsuit.

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