Richland County Official Retires Following Indictment, Arrest

Board accepts executive director's retirement

Richland County, SC (WLTX) - After months of controversy, James Brown III is no longer the executive director of the Richland County Recreation Commission, abruptly announcing his retirement from his job

The commission accepted his retirement Monday night at their public session following after a brief closed door meeting. His retirement became effective on October 14, which was last Friday.

Several members of the recreation commission declined to talk following the decision. 

Brown declined to comment, but his attorney, Mark Whitlark talked about his decision.

"Why retire now? Because he doubts that he could be an effective executive director after all of this. The cloud that has been cast over him despite the fact that he has done an excellent job as the executive director," Whitlark said.

Meanwhile, Jay Babb, the attorney representing the plaintiff's in the civil cases said the decision should have come sooner and called on Governor Haley to step in.

"We believe now that Governor Haley has the opportunity and an excellent opportunity and we would ask Governor Haley to review the matter and put board members in place that can make the decisions that need to be made about the leadership of RCRC moving forwards," Babb said.

The news comes after a difficult week for Brown, where he was first indicted on a charge of misconduct in office, and then two days later, arrested on a charge that he intimidated a state witness. 

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.

Some state lawmakers had called on Brown to step down in the wake of the allegations. 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 have all been investigating the agency.

Last Wednesday, that investigation led to an indictment claiming Brown used his position as the head of the agency to coerce and attempt to coerce female employees into having sexual contact with him over a three year period. Two days later, Richland County deputies say Brown went to the Recreation Commission's offices on Parklane Road and approached a female victim in a "threatening manner." Deputies said Brown knew he was not supposed to talk to the victim because of the ongoing investigation.


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