GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – What happened in Charlotte in 2017 between suspended Greenville Co. Sheriff Will Lewis and his assistant on a business trip was at the center of Wednesday’s proceedings as Lewis took the stand in his own defense.
Lewis faces criminal charges and stands accused of using a taxpayer funded trip to have an extramarital affair with his assistant Savanah Nabors.
Nabors on Tuesday testified she was sexually assaulted by Lewis on the trip to Charlotte in 2017.
On Wednesday, Lewis described what happened as consensual.
Ultimately, it’s two charges of misconduct in office that this jury is considering.
The state said he used public funds to plan the out of state trip to have the affair.
On the stand Wednesday, Lewis admitted what he did was wrong but it wasn’t misconduct.
Lewis’ defense attorneys asked him how the incident in Charlotte impacted him.
Lewis told the jury it gave him an opportunity to reflect on things.
“One of which and the most important was my relationship with God,” said Lewis. “It took a lot for me to come to grips with…with what I had done.”
With his wife visibly upset in court, Lewis said he was “far from perfect” when he had an affair with Nabors during a taxpayer funded business trip to Charlotte, a trip he admitted during the prosecution’s cross examination wasn’t necessary to have out of town..
Prosecutor: “You could have done your meeting that you ultimately did in Charlotte in Town Square, couldn’t you? There’s plenty of places to meet.”
Lewis: “We could have.”
Prosecutor: “You could have ordered in lunch?”
Lewis: “We could have.”
Prosecutor: “Putting yourself in this situation you basically set yourself up for failure, did you not? You set yourself up to have an affair.”
Lewis: “Looking back on it absolutely that’s what happened. At the time I did not see it.”
Lewis has admitted to the affair on multiple occasions, including in court on Wednesday, but he denied what Nabors told the jury Tuesday. She testified Lewis sexually assaulted her in her hotel room in Charlotte.
Prosecutor: “So you denied to other members of the sheriff’s department that you had an affair, correct?”
Lewis: “No. I denied that I had sexually assaulted or raped Savanah.”
Lewis: “I lied to my wife about having an affair, specifically to my wife. That does not jeopardize the integrity of the men and women of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office that I had an affair.”
One of the last exchanges between Lewis and prosecutors came when they asked him about another trip he was trying to plan with Nabors to Reno, Nevada after the trip to Charlotte.
Prosecutor: “You were trying to manipulate her to do that weren’t you?”
Lewis: “I was trying to convince her to go to Reno.”
Prosecutor: “Through manipulation.”
Lewis: “I don’t think it was through manipulation but I was definitely trying to convince her to go to Reno.”
Lewis also defended how Nabors was treated as a new employee after he became sheriff. He fought back against accusations of special treatment and said based on what he was told her over $60,000 a year salary was within the range for administrative coordinators.
The car she was issued he said was warranted since she was an on-call employee.
Lewis is expected to be back on the stand Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
Attorneys said earlier this week the trial would likely come to a close on Thursday.
The State Rests
The 16th Solicitor’s Office rested earlier in the day on Wednesday after three final witnesses testified.
One of them was Maj. Ty Miller with the sheriff’s office.
Miller poke about a recorded conversation she heard between Lewis and Nabors.
She said the two were talking about a trip to Reno, Nevada and on the tape Lewis could be heard telling Nabors it was normal for men and women in law enforcement to share hotel rooms and get undressed in front of each other.
“That we undress in front of men in law enforcement, our beat partners, that we go to the bathroom in front of our beat partners. I mean it was shocking and as she played it for me I began to think what, like, this was pure manipulation,” Miller told the jury.
Miller also talked about her concerns over Nabors, a civilian employee, and her access to crime scenes. She recalled a conversation she said she had with Lewis.
“I said to him that I was really, really concerned about the fact he had taken..brought..Savanah to the scene. That I was really concerned about the perception. I think my words were ‘I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday.’ I don’t know what’s goin’ on but the perception of what’s goin’ on is not good,” she said.
The State’s star witness, Savanah Nabors, testified Tuesday.
Nabors spend four hours on the stand, breaking down in tears at times, as she detailed an alleged assault she said happened during the business trip to Charlotte with Lewis.
During cross examination, Nabors told defense attorneys she never thought to file a police report and wasn’t sure who to report anything to at the time.