York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson on two deputies resigning: ‘I’m doing what I feel like public expects me to do’
A pair of former York County Sheriff’s Office deputies have resigned after admitting amid an internal investigation that they had sex while on duty. That brings the total to eight current or former deputies who have admitted sexual encounters on duty, Sheriff Kevin Tolson said at a news conference Monday.
However, it’s unclear if these eight are the only ones in the sheriff’s office involved in such encounters.
Asked if he expected more allegations involving sex on the job among his employees, Tolson simply said: “I hope not.”
The new revelations admitted by both deputies include the officers having sex in patrol cars, on duty, and at a campground, but it only came to light after other deputies were fired or disciplined for similar behavior.
In August, Tolson fired two deputies and disciplined four more after sexual encounters while on duty were revealed to internal investigators. Tolson stated then that he would not tolerate that kind of behavior.
The two deputies in the most recent incident each resigned Sept. 26 after interviews days earlier where both admitted to a relationship that spanned more that two years before the allegations were disclosed to sheriff command staffers, according to Tolson and personnel documents provided Monday to The Herald. Some of the sexual encounters took place while one or both of the deputies were on duty or in uniform, documents show.
One of the employees, a former sergeant, admitted to sex in the patrol car with the other deputy, documents show. Both resigned before they could be disciplined or fired.
“Had they not resigned, I would have terminated them,” Tolson said.
One deputy was interviewed Sept. 20, records show, and the other Sept. 21. No disciplinary action was taken between the time of their interviews with sheriff’s office professional standards investigators and their resignations on Sept. 26.
Tolson said in the news conference the employees who resigned before being fired were not treated any differently than the first group who did not resign and then were fired or demoted. Asked during the news conference if the six employees disciplined in August were asked to resign before facing sanction, Tolson said he was unsure.
The news conference was called because of a S.C. Freedom of Information Act request that asked for disciplinary records of employees. The request came on the heels of the August sex scandal.
The most recent allegations came to light after the August firings.
“To ignore it would be the worst thing we could do,” Tolson said.
Public employee personnel files are public records under South Carolina law, which was upheld after The Herald sued the York County Sheriff’s Office in 2000 when deputies were found to have had sex on duty. Tolson said in the news conference that he disagrees with that law, which requires him to release the names of employees included in the personnel records.
Monday, Tolson asked the assembled media not to name the former employees who most recently had resigned. He said naming the employees would be “embarrassing and humiliating.”
The Herald is not naming the employees because each resigned before any formal disciplinary action could be taken by Tolson or the sheriff’s office, said Herald Executive Editor Cliff Harrington. The Herald named the other employees who were fired or sanctioned because they had been disciplined by the sheriff’s office in August.