MARION, S.C. – A Marion police officer has filed a lawsuit against former Marion Police Chief Dewayne Tennie and the City of Marion, claiming she was raped by Tennie on multiple occasions and the city did not and still has not taken corrective action, reported WBTW.
The female officer is suing for sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, retaliation, slander and defamation per se against Defendant Tennie, and assault and battery, according to the lawsuit.
The officer began employment with the City of Marion Police Department in early 2008. She remains an employee. Tennie became the city’s police chief in 2014.
The officer admits to engaging in sexual relations with Tennie on numerous occasions from 2014 to 2018.
At one point, the officer claims she was texting a male friend on her phone when Tennie came up and began to read the text and “didn’t like it.” As a result, he allegedly grabbed and twisted her wrist and put his fist up “like he was going to hit” her, according to the lawsuit. The officer threatened to call the Sheriff, to which Tennie allegedly replied, “we will both lose our jobs.”
Moreover, the officer accuses Tennie of raping her twice, including in late 2017.
“Chief Tennie forced me to have sex with him because he was my supervisor, he threatened me, and he raped me,” she said in the lawsuit.
Weeks later, the lawsuit suggests Tennie sent numerous messages from his department cell phone to the officer, to which she replied back, “leave me alone!” Consequently, the officer threatened to go to the mayor if Tennie didn’t leave her alone. At one point, the lawsuit suggests Tennie replied back, “I have kids. You can’t go to the mayor…”
Furthermore, the officer claims Tennie then raped her again in February of 2018, WBTW reported.
She said in the lawsuit that Tennie would make her job “a living hell” when she did not want to have relations with him.
At one point, Tennie allegedly yelled at her in the presence of city officials in the courtroom while court was in session, criticizing her for not hearing the receptionist calling for someone to fingerprint an individual. The officer’s radio was off “because it is a rule that all radios must be turned off while court is in session,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also claims the City of Marion “was and is aware of the illegal sexual harassment, and failed and continues to fail to take corrective action.”
A press release from City of Marion Publicist Vicki Nichols said Tennie was placed on administrative leave with pay on March 2 “due to a pending investigation.” She said no additional information would be released since the investigation involved a “personnel matter.” However, Tennie resigned from the position of police chief nearly three weeks later.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division spokesperson Thom Berry confirmed in early March that SLED was investigating allegations made against Tennie, but would not expand on the content of the accusations.
Marion City Council negotiated a severance package for Tennie, and on March 28, officials said the city had reached an agreement with him.
That agreement, obtained by WBTW, says the city will pay Tennie $35,600 for the former police chief’s agreement to “fully release and discharge the Employer of and from any and all grievances, charges, employment contracts, suits, legal actions or claims of any nature whatsoever regarding the Employer’s employment policies and practices or Employee’s separation from employment with the Employer.”
Documents show Tennie signed the agreement March 27.
WBTW News13 reached out to the City of Marion and SLED for comment on the lawsuit.
SLED officials told the news agency the case against Tennie remains open.