The embattled director of Richland County’s recreation commission has retired, roughly a week after his indictment for misconduct and arrest on separate charges.
Commission members voted unanimously Monday to accept James Brown III’s retirement, according to The State newspaper. The commission held the vote publicly following a closed-door meeting. The retirement was set retroactively to last Friday.
A Richland County grand jury indicted Brown last week on a charge of using his position to coerce female employees into having “sexual contact” with him. Two days later, county sheriff’s deputies arrested him and charged him with intimidating a witness after an employee claimed he threatened her at the commission offices in Columbia. He faces up to 10 years in prison for the misconduct in office charge.
Several lawsuits have been filed against Brown and the commission claiming malfeasance, nepotism and a hostile work environment under Brown at the commission. A majority of Richland County’s legislative delegation had previously called on board members to fire Brown even before the indictment occurred. Commission members are technically appointed by the governor, but she normally relies on local legislators’ advice.
Brown has repeatedly denied the accusations against him and expressed hope the investigation would clear his name. His lawyer last week disputed the witness intimidation charge, saying it had been blown out of proportion as an excuse to bring charges against the director.