HCPD failed to act on 13 separate sexual assault investigations, documents say

HCPD failed to act on 13 separate sexual assault investigations, documents say

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Court documents released June 28 allege that former Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes was not only aware of former detective Allen Large's alleged criminal sexual conduct and misconduct within the department, but that she also had knowledge of at least 13 other reports of sexual misconduct by HCPD officers and failed to take any action on the allegations.

The information comes as a part of a 30-page document filed by Jane Doe 3's counsel against Horry County Police Department, former chief Saundra Rhodes and others, in response to the defendants' request for summary judgment. According to the documents, a related case forced HCPD to produce copies of all citizen complaints pertaining to unwanted sexual advances and/or sexual assaults by officers between January 1, 2006 and September 26, 2016.

The recently-filed court documents claim if instances of "actual and constructive notice" into Large's misconduct dating back to 2003 were properly investigated, no other victims would have been placed at risk.

According to the filing, Large's superiors received a letter in 2003 making them aware of "concerns regarding Large's inappropriate contact with crime victims." It continues to say that "despite this knowledge, no one initiated an Internal Affairs investigation or investigation of any sort into the allegations of Detective Large's behavior."

A law enforcement expert who intends to testify on Jane Doe 3's behalf at trial reviewed the independent internal investigations into these allegations. In court documents, Dr. Timothy Maher's expert report determined the complaints were not properly addressed. Maher also said the reports showed a pattern of police officers allowed to resign in lieu of termination, giving them the ability to transfer to other police departments or employment without record of their alleged misconduct.

The documents continue, alleging a pattern of knowledge of Large's misconduct and a wider trend of institutional failure to act.

After a polygraph examination of Detective Large, an investigator testified he received information that there may be more victims. The investigator reportedly was told by Lt. Chief W. Scott Rutherford to "cease and desist" any efforts to gather new information.

According to the documents, Jane Doe 1's sexual assault case against Large was ruled "unfounded" under the direct pressure of Chief of Police Saundra Rhodes. The investigator testified Rhodes prevented him from investigating the matter and told him to base the outcome "solely on whether Detective confessed to any wrongdoing."

Large was terminated from the Horry County Police Department in 2015 amid sexual harassment allegations sustained through an internal investigation. Large was later indicted on six counts of misconduct in office and five counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Up until his death in January 2018, Large maintained his innocence.

He denied sexually assaulting anyone, though he did admit to asking female crime victims if they wanted to make money by participating in nude, sexual fetish cat-fights with other women.

The case against the department is still pending.

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