Sheriff plans to stay on job; Lt. Gov. suggests recall process

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) –   The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office says Sheriff Will Lewis plans to stay on the job despite several calls for resignation from politicians and the community last week.

The calls for resignation follow a lawsuit filed earlier this month on behalf of the sheriff’s former employee, Savanah Nabors, for sexual abuse.

Lewis admitted to a consensual encounter but denied any allegations of sexual assault or harassment.

If the sheriff did resign, the governor could appoint an interim while a special election was held.

However, elected officials are being proactive in looking at ways to make sure counties don’t find themselves in this position in the future.

County council says they’ve been looking at options.

“Horry County created a county police force which was in addition to the sheriff,” Greenville County Council Chairman Butch Kirven said. “They didn’t have the power to replace the sheriff, but they minimized the sheriff’s budget and duties.”

Council says they’re not sure they’d do exactly that, but they are considering a lot of suggestions.

Lt. Governor Kevin Bryant believes there needs to be some way elected officials can be held accountable in instances such as this, but he cautions against giving other government officials or entities that power to remove another elected official. However, he does think the state should look into have a recall process.

“I believe it’s an option that the voters should have, when the tax payers lose confidence in their elected officials,” Lt. Gov. Bryant said.

He says recalls take time that wouldn’t be best for the current situation.

“The people in Greenville shouldn’t have to wait on a recall process,” Bryant said. “The sheriff should’ve resigned several, several days ago just based on what we know which was an abuse of power.”

However, for future missteps, he says lawmakers would just have to find the right way to go about creating the law. He says it could start with a certain percentage of registered voters signing a petition.

“If it’s too easy, every losing campaign would want to do it.” Bryant said. “If it’s too hard, it wouldn’t have a right effect.”

He says he also wonders if the indictment threshold is too high and there should be another level to where an elected official could be removed, but he says he doesn’t know what the alternative would be.

He says he does believe people should continue electing their sheriff.

“We need to keep that privilege, and the options now are resignation, or there cannot be a removal unless there’s an indictment, and I would like to give the voters a third option,” Bryant said.

The sheriff’s office says they’ll not make any further comments while litigation is ongoing.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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