Crime

Amended lawsuit against Horry County police names former chief, other officers

Former Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes, along with several other officers, have been named as defendants in an amended lawsuit alleging a former detective sexually assaulted a rape victim, with the lawsuit saying they knew about the detective’s inappropriate behavior but didn’t take action against him when they should have.
Former Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes, along with several other officers, have been named as defendants in an amended lawsuit alleging a former detective sexually assaulted a rape victim, with the lawsuit saying they knew about the detective’s inappropriate behavior but didn’t take action against him when they should have. jlee@thesunnews

Former Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes, along with several other officers, have been named as defendants in an amended lawsuit alleging a former detective sexually assaulted a rape victim, with the lawsuit saying they knew about the detective’s inappropriate behavior but didn’t take action against him when they should have.

The amended suit, filed Tuesday by attorneys with Evans Moore, LLC representing Jane Doe 2, alleges Rhodes, along with Deputy Chief Scott Rutherford, Sgt. Thomas DelPercio, Lt. William Squires, and Captain of Criminal Investigations Division Dale Buchanan “possessed actual and/constructive knowledge of former Detective [Troy Allen] Large’s inappropriate actions and communications toward plaintiff, as well as other victims he ‘investigated,’ yet took no action to terminate him or prevent his continued interaction with female victims of violent crimes,” according to a court document.

Large and the Horry County Police Department are being sued by two women identified only as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, whose sexual assault cases Large was assigned to investigate and who allege the former detective sexually assaulted them and persuaded them to participate in nude, videotaped “catfights,” documents state.

Defendants failed to take any action against Detective Large, allowing him to continue to abuse female crime victims and suspects, including plaintiff, under the guise of the Horry County Police Department.

Lawsuit filed by Jane Doe 2

Large has denied the sexual assault accusations in sworn testimony during a deposition given in March, but admitted to asking the two Jane Does, as well as a third woman who was a victim of domestic violence, to participate in the videotaping of a sexual fetish referred to as catfighting.

The suit was originally filed May 18 against the Horry County Police Department and Large, but was amended to add Rhodes and the others.

“Defendants Rhodes, Rutherford, DelPercio, Squires, and Buchanan were supervisors within the Horry County Police Department, and as such, were responsible for the supervision of their subordinate officers, including but not limited to, Detective Large,” the document states.

The suit also claims Rhodes and the other officers had knowledge Large was the subject of prior investigations regarding allegations of sexual assaults, had prior disciplinary actions taken against him, and was not qualified to safely investigate and/or meet with potential female victims, including the plaintiff.

The plaintiff asserts in the suit that by “consciously and intentionally failing to act or intervene” the newly-named defendants authorized Large’s actions, according to court documents.

Prior to being named in the lawsuit, Rhodes declined to discuss the lawsuits in detail with The Sun News because she will be called as a witness to testify.

Others added as defendants in the lawsuit could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier declined to comment on the amended lawsuit, saying it is county policy not to comment on pending litigation.

Several of the law enforcement officials added to the lawsuit no longer work at the Horry County Police Department.

Rhodes retired last month, and Rutherford recently announced his retirement effective June 6 after 25 years with the department. The county paid $60,000 into Rhodes state retirement fund so that she could collect those benefits a year and seven months earlier than her 25th anniversary with the department. Her last day was May 6.

Buchanan retired Jan. 17 after 29 years with the department, according to Bourcier. It was unclear late Wednesday afternoon whether Squires and DelPercio were still employed with Horry County police.

Rhodes told The Sun News last month that she requested that SLED investigate three officers last year, and she made an additional request this year to investigate another officer. She fired Large on July 31 after an internal investigation confirmed allegations of sexual harassment, according to the termination letter obtained by The Sun News through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“She is not concerned about any allegations [against her] and looks forward to defending herself in court,” said Rhodes’ attorney Bert von Herrmann.

Large was allegedly videotaped engaging in inappropriate conduct at the plaintiff’s residence, and DelPercio, one of Large’s supervisors, was allegedly provided this videotape, according to the lawsuit. Large’s activities were investigated, and he received a written reprimand and referral to counseling to determine whether he was fit for duty, documents state.

After this written reprimand was issued, Large continued to make inappropriate contact with Jane Doe 2, the suit says. On or about July 2, Large offered a ride to a scheduled court appearance, and the plaintiff agreed because she had no other transportation. Large then sexually assaulted her in his police vehicle, according to court documents.

A second investigation ensued and led to Large’s termination on July 31 for sexual harassment, the lawsuit says.

“Defendants failed to take any action against Detective Large, allowing him to continue to abuse female crime victims and suspects, including plaintiff, under the guise of the Horry County Police Department,” the suit states.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has been investigating individuals in the Horry County Police Department since November. Any findings of wrongdoing will be forwarded to the state Attorney General.

Former Horry County Police detective Allen Large is in a nearly five-hour taped deposition recounting his involvement with three Jane Does, making accusations against some of his co-workers and admitting to suggesting the Jane Does participate in

Elizabeth Townsend: 843-626-0217, @TSN_etownsend

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