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Former York Co. jail worker hit vulnerable brother in head with belt, SC police say

York County Sheriff's Office

A former York County jailer is an inmate in the detention center where she used to work after being charged with abusing her elderly brother, police said.

Patricia Elizabeth Brookhart, 67, of Fort Mill, was arrested Wednesday on one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult, said York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson.

Brookhart is accused of hitting her brother in the head with a belt while she was his primary caregiver, Tolson said.

The warrant for Brookhart’s arrest states that she “knowingly and willfully abused him by kicking, paddling and hitting him with her fists and a belt, leaving him with bruises and marks on his body.”

Brookhart also refused to give her brother his Social Security money, police say. The brother suffered medical problems from the neglect and lack of medical care, police say.

The charge against Brookhart is a felony that carries up to five years in prison for a conviction under South Carolina law.

Deputies were told of the accusation in October, after S.C. Department of Social Services agents made the complaint. Tolson asked the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate. SLED served arrest warrants on Brookhart Wednesday.

“These allegations are disheartening and disturbing and certainly do not reflect the character and integrity required of and displayed by the many faithful employees of the York County Sheriff’s Office,” Tolson said in a statement.

The sheriff’s office has more than 350 employees.

Brookhart was suspended by Tolson the day of the allegations, and resigned a few days later. Brookhart had worked at the jail for 16 years, said Trent Faris, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

Brookhart will be prosecuted by the 16th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. The solicitor’s office and sheriff’s office jail are both located in the Moss Justice Center in York. Prosecutors said there is no conflict in handling the case even with the solicitor’s office and sheriff’s office in the same building, said Kevin Brackett, 16th Circuit Solicitor.

“We have no relationship with the defendant or her family that I am aware of that would create a conflict of interest,” Brackett said. “This case will be reviewed and handled as any other case would be with no consideration given to the identity of the defendant or her place of employment.”

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.