An Aiken County legislator has been suspended from office after his formal indictment Wednesday on two charges related to a domestic violence incident last week.
South Carolina House Speaker Jay Lucas suspended State Rep. Chris Corley, R-Graniteville, less than an hour after the state Attorney General’s Office announced an Aiken County grand jury indicted him Wednesday. The indictment was for Pointing and Presenting a Firearm and a more serious domestic violence charge than Corley was initially charged after his Dec. 27 arrest.
The new charge for Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature is a felony that carries a maximum 20-year sentence. It is an upgrade from the First Degree Domestic Violence charge Aiken County Sheriffs deputies filed against Corley. Corley also faces a 5-year maximum for the weapon charge.
An Aiken County Sheriff’s Office report said deputies responded to Corley’s home last week, where the Republican legislator’s wife said he struck her in the face and said he was going to kill her. Deputies said children were in the home at the time. The indictment stated Corley repeatedly beat her “about the face, head and body with a closed fist.” The woman said Corley only stopped attacking her because he heard kids screaming and noticed blood coming from her head.
She then said Corley went to his car, then came back inside with a handgun, pointed it at her and said he was going to kill himself before going into the bedroom. She fled the house with the children to a family member’s home across the street.
Corley told deputies that he and the woman got into an argument, because she thought the 36-year-old lawmaker was cheating on her. He said the woman attempted to strike him in the face with her fist, but he pushed her off of him. Corley said the woman scratched him in the forehead. He has no prior criminal record in Aiken County and is free on a $20,000 surety bond. He cannot have contact with his wife or possess any weapons before his court date.
Lucas said state law required he suspend Corley from office until he is acquitted or the charges are dismissed. South Carolina’s state constitution prevents a convicted felon from holding elected office.
At least one of Corley’s Republican colleagues has called on the Aiken County lawmaker to step down. “With this indictment, I hope Rep. Corley does what’s honorable and immediately resigns his elected position,” State Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, said in a tweet.