Wellford Officer Charged With Sex Crime, Abuse Of Vulnerable Adu - WSPA.com

Wellford Officer Charged With Sex Crime, Abuse Of Vulnerable Adult

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Bennie Brandon Hand Bennie Brandon Hand
WELLFORD, S.C. -

A former Wellford police officer has been charged with criminal sexual conduct, abuse of a vulnerable adult, and misconduct in office.

State officials arrested Bennie Brandon Hand, 32, Tuesday.

Arrest warrants allege that Hand sexually assaulted a person he knows or has reason to know who is "mentally defective" and "incapable of appraising the nature of her conduct."

The SLED investigation came at the request of the Wellford Police Department.

Hand was fired Tuesday.

Hand's old boss, Wellford Police Chief Jeff Bowers, was notified of the allegations last Sunday and handed off the case to SLED.

"This is actually one of my supervisors, which makes it even worse for me," Bowers said.

Bowers insists the community is safe. He planned a staff meeting to explain Hand's firing and review expectations.

He recognizes the troubles this department has had in the past.

The former mayor and former police chief were arrested after a state investigation into the town's finances back in 2011.

7 On Your Side asked what current police chief Bowers is doing to prevent future investigations into his own staff.

He's working to upgrade policies and gain state accreditation for the department.

"It's a voluntary thing to show the community and the public that you're trying to be a step ahead and more professional," Bowers said.

It's also an attempt to repair a public image, which isn't easy when another man who wore an officer's uniform last week is now spending time as an inmate in the county jail.

"I will not tolerate this type of behavior and if you see one of my officers and they're doing something wrong, by all means contact me," Bowers said.

A judge set Hand's bond at $20,000 and ordered him not to have contact with the victim.

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