Gov. Henry McMaster says he believes Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis should resign amid sexual harassment accusations.
A former employee has sued the sheriff, accusing him of having sex with her in a hotel room while she was unconscious and firing her after she refused his further advances. The sheriff admitted an affair in a press conference last week, but insisted the encounter was consensual.
McMaster told Greenville radio affiliate WORD on Friday morning that he believes Lewis has lost the ability to lead the agency. “I think this has gotten to the place, with his acknowledgment of the accuracy of some of the information, it’s gotten to the point where people need to have an effective leader,” he said. “Under those circumstances, I think the best thing for all concerned to do is for the sheriff to resign.”
The governor said he would fire the sheriff himself if he had the power. Since sheriffs are elected positions, state law does not allow another official to fire them. The governor can suspend a sheriff from office if they face criminal charges. Lewis is not charged, although he is under investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
Attorneys representing the former employee Savannah Nabors have also released audio she recorded of a conversation with Lewis, where he pressed her to stay in his hotel room during a separate conference in Nevada. Nabors ultimately declined, but not until the sheriff offered to have the county pay for her travel arrangements.
McMaster’s comments come a week after a primary challenger of his — Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant — also said Lewis should step down. The Greenville County Council has also voted to call for the sheriff’s resignation, but the vote is not binding on Lewis.