We here at Law Enforcement Today are staunch advocates of law enforcement and the protection they supply our communities. We detail the dangers that they face on a daily basis.
However, it doesn’t mean we shy away from telling the stories of when officers and police officials stray away from the oaths they made to our communities, This, unfortunately, is one of those cases.
This past week, a South Carolina sheriff was sentenced to one year in jail after being found guilty of misconduct for using his office and position as a means coerce a personal assistant to have sex with him.
The former Greenville County Sheriff, Will Lewis, was found guilty in court on Friday on one charge of misconduct of a public officer; however, he was found not guilty on the charge of misconduct in office.
The charges had come about from a described 2017 trip to Charlotte during which Lewis had sex with his assistant, Savanah Nabors. During the trial, Lewis had testified that the sex was consensual, but Nabors previously went public with her version of events via a blog online and claimed the pair went back to her hotel room and she woke up with Lewis having sex with her after a night of drinking with the then Sheriff.
According to court documents, Lewis also testified that he did not plan to have sex with his young female assistant at an out-of-town budget conference, but one thing led to another after they went out for drinks and ended up in her hotel room.
Despite Lewis’ version of the events, the prosecutors disagreed with what he had detailed as to what led up to the encounter. They said that Lewis had used his power to set up the encounter, initially by hiring the then 22-year-old woman at $62,000 a year when the standard starting pay for a deputy is around $30,000 a year and then setting up the trip to Charlotte, North Carolina and leaving a bottle of whisky in Nabors’ bag so he would have an excuse to go to her room and get it later on in the evening.
Clearly this synopsis that the prosecution provided had resonated with the jury, as their proposed version carried the clout of Savanah Nabors’ blog entry where she detailed what she called an unwanted sexual encounter with Lewis in 2017 in a Charlotte, North Carolina, hotel. Nabors’ testimony at the trial reiterated the sentiments expressed in her online detailing of the events as well.
Lewis’s wife, Amy, was in the court during the sentencing and had asked the judge for leniency and to not send her husband to prison for the sake of their children. As most folks are aware, former law enforcement officers rarely have an easy time in prison, thus Lewis had stated in court that the thought of going to prison scared him.
Solicitor Kevin Brackett, who has been with the 16thCircuit for 28 years, described Lewis’ misconduct as “brazen, naked corruption”.
“He has no insight into his own personal failings. This wasn’t an isolated incident. This is who he is. I don’t think he’s capable of change.”
The jury had found Lewis guilty of one misconduct charge after deliberation, but not guilty of misconduct that involves not doing a public job properly which a conviction of such could result in 10 years in prison.
A stipulation that was reached was that he be removed from the job he won in South Carolina’s most populated county back in 2016. Governor Henry McMaster obliged to that request after the trial concluded and issued an executive order permanently removing Lewis from the office of sheriff.
Judge G. Thomas Cooper mentioned the following to Lewis during his sentencing:
“My sentence unfortunately for you is going to give you a lot of time to think about this. Put into perspective your life with your family, your community, your God. I’d advise you not to squander or waste that time”
While the state has yet to file any charges related to the sexual assault that was alleged during the trial against Lewis, Nabors was paid nearly $100,000 from a state insurance fund in May of this year to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against Lewis and the Greenville County Sheriff’s office.
Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown, who McMaster had appointed to the office during the onset of the indictment back in 2018 while Lewis was suspended without pay, will remain the interim sheriff until a special election is held, the order added.
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It’s not the only case of a member of law enforcement violating his oath today.
All across our country, parents encourage their children to trust in the helpers and the heroes. We teach our children to look for police when in danger and trust the guidance of their teachers. The men and women who serve their communities in these roles are heroes not only to the tiny faces that look up to them, but the families, including their own, who count on them.
A Louisiana Sheriff deputy and his wife, a middle school teacher, were arrested this week for the most heinous abuse of that trust.
Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy Dennis Perkins and his wife Cynthia Perkins, have been charged with 60 counts of production of pornography involving a juvenile under the age of 13 and 2 counts of first degree rape.
Additionally, Dennis Perkins is charged with 2 counts of video voyeurism, 2 counts of obscenity and 3 counts of possession of pornography. Fox 8 reports that evidence seized includes nude photos of the couple with a nude minor child. Additionally, Dennis Perkins faced obstruction charges for throwing his phone into a river when discovering that he was being taken into custody.
The case unfolded as a result of a tip from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, The Advocate’s Emma Kennedy reports. The initial information suggesting possession and distribution of child pornography lead Louisiana law enforcement to the commander of one of their own SWAT teams.
“It is a sad day for us, for all law enforcement officers, when you arrest one of your own,” Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard said.
He went on about the violation of trust.
“We at the LPSO work hard every day to retain the trust placed in us by our citizens. I understand this was a veteran law enforcement officer, one who had dedicated a lot of time and effort into this community, but as I have said in the past, no one is above the law. This type of alleged behavior will not be tolerated by me or anyone at the LPSO. I do not condone these alleged acts. I am disappointed. I have always considered Denny a friend and a family member.”
Cynthia Perkins, a 34-year-old junior high school teacher in Livingston Parish, is a divorced mother of three, according to The Advocate.
Her ex-husband has filed a restraining order against her since the arrest. Dennis Perkins is also a divorcee who shares custody of one minor child with his ex-wife. Cynthia Perkins had been an English teacher at Westside Junior High since 2016 and several other area schools in the years preceding.
Perkins had a long career leading up to his most recent position as SWAT commander. He had also served on other local area police forces before joining Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office. District Attorney Scott Perrilloux has recused himself from being involved in the case saying:
“Our office has had a lot of involvement with Mr. Perkins over the years with many cases so we felt like it was in the interest of the entire matter to recuse ourselves.”
Both husband and wife will have separate hearings next week under in accordance with Gwen’s Law. Gwen’s Law dictates that Louisiana courts must hold hearings to determine if granting bail for those accused of domestic abuse will likely pose further risk to the victim. Until such a hearing occurs, the accused must remain incarcerated. It is unknown at this time if the minor or minors involved are family members.
Dennis Perkins was originally booked into Sabine Parish Detention Center for the obstruction of justice charge. He was then transferred to Livingston Parish but will be further transferred to Ascension Parish for his protection from inmates he may have history with during his law enforcement career.