Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis admitted Thursday to an “encounter” with a former employee who accused him of sexual assault and harassment, but insists the affair was consensual.
“I did have a consensual encounter earlier this year and for that, I’m deeply sorry” the sheriff said in a press conference. “I do want to be clear about one thing: the allegations of rape, and stalking, harassment, that’s completely 100 percent false.”
Lewis’s comments come after a former Sheriff’s Office employee Savannah Nabors sued the agency, claiming Lewis fired her for spurning his romantic advances and even accusing him of having sex with her in a hotel room while she was unconscious. South Carolina Radio Network does not normally identify sexual assault victims, but Nabors has identified herself in online postings.
The State Law Enforcement Division had been investigating the claims since August, even before Nabors filed the lawsuit Monday. Attorneys representing the former employee released audio showing a man and woman identified as Lewis and Nabors talking at her home in April. In the audio, the sheriff invites Nabors to an upcoming conference in Nevada, saying he believes the department could pay for her ticket. However, he tells her he can only secure one hotel room. Nabors responds that she is “worried” other people will find out. But Lewis dismisses her concerns.
Nabors said the conversation occurred one month after the two had sex in a Charlotte hotel room during a March retreat. In the lawsuit, she claims Lewis came into her room and poured “dark liquor” for her to drink. She said she floated in and out of consciousness while the sheriff had sex with her. In the lawsuit, Nabors implied the alcohol may have been drugged and stated she did not remember Lewis drinking any.
Lewis, who is married, said answers to the lawsuit’s accusations would come through the litigation process.
The sheriff indicated he would not step down, despite the investigation and the affair. “I’ve humbled myself before my family and I’ve asked them for forgiveness,” he told reporters. “And I’m doing the same for every single person that cast a vote for me, that supported me, that came out and helped me during my election and my campaign.”