Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant said Monday night that Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis should step down.
Bryant, was reacting to Lewis's admission last week that he had a "consensual encounter" with a former employee that Lewis hired at the Sheriff's Office. Bryant, a Republican, is the highest-ranking state official to call for Lewis to step down. Lewis also is a Republican.
"The affair was wrong," Bryant said during an interview after he spoke at Bob Jones University in Greenville.
Bryant said the admission Lewis made last week is "very, very disappointing" and that Lewis should voluntarily step down as sheriff.
Earlier Monday, Gov. Henry McMaster was asked whether he plans to take any action regarding Lewis.
“I am generally aware of the issue," McMaster said. "I have made no decision – don’t know there is one to be made at this time.
Bryant is running against McMaster for governor. His campaign is focusing largely on what he sees as a need to restore integrity to state government.
There is no provision for a sheriff to be removed from office unless he is indicted for a crime involving moral turpitude. County Council also does not have any authority over the sheriff other than approving the agency's budget.
Savannah Nabors has filed a lawsuit in Greenville County against Lewis that alleges he sexually assaulted her at a Charlotte hotel, stalked her and harassed her, eventually leading to the end of her employment at the Sheriff's Office.
The Greenville News does not typically identify victims of sexual assault, but Nabors went public with her allegations in a blog on a family member's website earlier this year.
Lewis denied the criminal allegations last week, describing his relationship with Nabors as a "consensual encounter earlier this year."
"The allegations of rape and stalking and harassment, that's completely, 100 percent false," he said.
The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the allegations.
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