Several women suing the Horry County Police Department and former Detective Allen Large on sexual abuse related issues will not be forced to disclose their identity.
Lawyer Samuel Arthur, representing the county and police department, dropped his request during a court hearing Monday morning.
The county asked the court this summer for the hearing to request that an earlier court order protecting the names of the four women be vacated.
Arthur told Circuit Judge Roger Henderson that after consultation with his clients, he decided to withdraw the motion.
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Asked after the hearing why the county decided not to pursue the matter, Arthur declined saying, “I’m not going to comment on my decision-making process.”
The court was also asked Monday by lawyers representing the women identified only as Jane Does to force the county police department to turn over personnel records of two other former police officers — one of whom, Todd Cox, was indicted along with Large by a grand jury last week.
Large faces six counts of third degree criminal sexual conduct and five counts of misconduct in office. The Horry County grand jury indicted Cox on 16 counts of misconduct in office, charges that are unrelated to the lawsuits.
The cases will be prosecuted by the state attorney’s general office.
James B. Moore, representing the Jane Does, asked the court to compel the county to turn over Cox and former officer Christopher Peterson’s personnel records. Both men will be called as witnesses in the Jane Doe lawsuits, and that information is needed for depositions, Moore said.
Moore also wants the county to turn over all citizen complaints filed with the police department of unwanted sexual advances and sexual assaults alleged against officers since 2006, as well as all internal affairs investigations regarding those incidents.
“Not only are prior incidents necessary to support our allegations, these prior incidents go to the heart of their defense that they have no knowledge, no notice of this problem within the department, and our position is that notice can’t be used as a sword and a shield,” Moore said.
“If that’s going to be their defense, then we certainly should have the opportunity to investigate that and to look into that matter,” Moore said.
The lawsuits against the police department allege that some officers engaged in a pattern of condoning the behavior, failing to investigate it or take any actions against it.
The county has denied all of the charges brought in the lawsuit, which claims that Large took advantage of four women whose cases he was assigned to investigate, sexually assaulted two of them, and coerced them all to participate in pornographic nude catfight videos.
Large denies the sexual assault charges, but admits that he asked the women to participate in the videos.
Judge Henderson will decide later this week on Moore’s request.
Arthur argued that the county should not be compelled to release the personnel records of Cox and Peterson because they are not the target of the lawsuits.
The county has also resisted turning over complaints by the public of sexual harassment or any investigations by an internal affairs officer.
“In my view, it’s simply an attempt to identify potential other claimants or issues related to other officers that might spawn additional litigation,” Arthur said. “It simply does not bear on the issues of this case.”
Arthur said the request for all complaints is too broad and would be burdensome to Horry County employees to review and release.
The police department would have to go through the files of each and every employee to review and sort through every internal affairs document to determine if it were relevant to the request, Arthur said.
If the police cannot produce files of investigations on complaints, that would contradict the county’s claims that allegations against officers are addressed, said Moore, who volunteered his staff to review those complaints “if it’s too burdensome for 300 employees of the police department.”