A grand jury indicted four former Horry County police officials late Thursday, including former Detective Allen Large, who is accused in several lawsuits of coercing women to participate in a subgenre of pornography called catfighting.
The S.C. Attorney General’s office is prosecuting the cases in which Large faces five counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and six counts of misconduct in office, which combined carries a maximum jail sentence of 110 years.
The indictments allege that Large knowingly used coercion to engage in sexual battery with multiple victims and knowingly engaged in inappropriate relationships with the victims of cases he was investigating.
Also indicted were former officers Todd Cox, Daryl Williams and Luke Green.
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The indictments signed by Attorney General Alan Wilson say Williams failed to properly investigate 88 cases assigned to him, failed to properly investigate two cases of criminal sexual conduct, two cases of sexual assault and one kidnapping and sexual assault.
The indictments state that Williams used his county vehicle and county paid time to work for a separate state agency, the Department of Social Services.
Cox was indicted on 16 counts of misconduct in office. The indictments say Cox knowingly closed cases without proper investigation and knowingly unassigned himself from cases allowing them to remain unassigned for a period of time.
The cases Cox closed without investigation or unassigned include criminal sexual conduct, child abuse, lynching, armed robbery, sexual exploitation of a minor, kidnapping, cruelty to children, an overdose death, shooting and attempted murder. One indictment says he failed to investigate 18 cases.
The alleged actions of a few should not diminish the service they provide as they put their lives on the line to keep us safe.
Chris Eldridge, Horry County administrator
Green was indicted on three counts of misconduct in office. The indictments say Green made inappropriate sexual contact with a suspect during a prostitution arrest and engaged in a sexual relationship with a confidential informant.
Misconduct in office is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a maximum 10-year jail sentence. Third-degree criminal sexual conduct is a felony offense that also carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
The indictments are the results of a 10-month investigation conducted by the S.C. Law Enforcement Division. The full results of that investigation will not be made public until the case goes to court, said SLED spokesman Thom Berry.
Jimmy Richardson, 15th Circuit solicitor, said he recused himself from the case in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety, and asked the attorney general to investigate.
Prosecution of the case begins with the arraignment of the four former officers next week in a Horry County courtroom, said Hayley Bledsoe, spokeswoman for the attorney general.
Bledsoe declined to comment on the case, saying it was their policy not to make statements about pending litigation.
Now that the indictments have been made public, Richardson said the dark cloud that has hung over the agency for months will start to recede.
“I believe that the other guys at the Horry County Police Department are probably relieved that this cloud is starting to break up,” Richardson said.
Chris Eldridge, Horry County administrator, said that if the allegations are true, it represents behavior that is “grossly contrary” to county government standards.
Eldridge also said that accountability measures have been reviewed and improvements made, and noted that “significant changes” have been made in the leadership of the agency since the investigation began.
Saundra Rhodes stepped down as chief earlier this summer and her deputy chiefs also have left the department. A new police chief, Joe Hill, will take over the police agency Monday.
“The more than 250 men and women of the Horry County Police Department work tirelessly every day to protect and serve our community,” Eldridge said in a statement.
I believe that the other guys at the Horry County Police Department are probably relieved that this cloud is starting to break up.
Jimmy Richardson, 15th Circuit solicitor
“The alleged actions of a few should not diminish the service they provide as they put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” Eldridge said.
Large also is the target of four lawsuits filed against the Horry County Police Department by women identified as Jane Does, alleging that he coerced them to videotape catfights with other women.
The Sun News reported that Large confessed during a March deposition that he encouraged several women to fight nude in videos for money, but he has denied sexually harassing or assaulting them.
Large could not be reached for comment on the indictments.
James B. Moore III, of the Evans Moore Law Firm that represents the women, said he is satisfied with how SLED and the attorney’s general office handled the case and that Large was indicted “for his shameful actions.”
“Despite their previous experiences with the Horry County Police Department, our clients have full faith and trust in the civil justice system as well as the criminal justice system,” Moore said. “We hope that (Thursday’s) indictments send a clear message that this kind of behavior cannot, and will not, be tolerated.”
Elizabeth Townsend contributed to this report.