Recreation Commission Head Arrested, Accused of Intimidating Witness

The suspect is accused of approaching the woman in a threatening manner Friday morning.

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The executive director of the Richland County Recreation Commission has been arrested on a charge that he intimidated a witness.

James Brown III was taken into custody Friday afternoon. 

According to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, Brown approached a female victim in a "threatening manner" outside the Richland County Recreation Commission. Lott said Brown knew he was not supposed to talk to the victim because of the ongoing investigation involving himself and the agency.

Brown then left the area, but officers were able to pull him over a short time later. Officers questioned both Brown, the victim, and witnesses, and ultimately determined that charges needed to be filed.

Brown turned himself in at the sheriff's department headquarters at 5 p.m. 

The arrest comes two days after a Richland County grand jury indicted Brown on a charge of misconduct in office. 

The indictment claims that between 2012 and 2015, Brown used his position as the head of the agency to coerce and attempt to coerce female employees into having sexual contact with him.

J. Marie Green, the chairwoman of the board of the recreation commission, announced Thursday that he'd been suspended without pay.

Brown's attorney, Mark Whitlark, issued this statement on his client's arrest: "He's earned this job that he has through his education, experience, training and his hard work over the years. I can indict a ham sandwich for that charge. It's just a catch all charge. Let's just get him for misconduct. He's been coercing females. And you know with this it's not true."

The recreation commission is responsible for managing the parks and recreation programs throughout the county. Since March, five civil lawsuits have been filed against the commission, Brown, members of the board and other employees.

The investigation into the commission has been part of a joint effort by the Richland County Sheriff's Department, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney General's office, and the South Carolina Attorney General's office.

 


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