“To this charge, Mr. Lewis, how do you plead?”
“Not guilty, your Honor.”
With those words, suspended Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis entered his initial plea Thursday on misconduct and obstruction of justice charges handed down by a county grand jury earlier this week.
Lewis is free on personal recognizance bond as he awaits trial. He declined to comment to reporters outside the Greenville County Courthouse.
A former sheriff’s department employee claims Lewis drugged her on a business trip and had sex with her while she was unconscious. Lewis has admitted to cheating on his wife, but insists the encounter was consensual. The employee Savannah Nabors is suing the sheriff and department after she said she was fired for refusing Lewis’s further advances. South Carolina Radio Network does not normally identify crime victims, but Nabors has posted publicly on the incident.
Gov. Henry McMaster has suspended Lewis from office pending his court case. He could be reinstated if acquitted of the charges. The governor has chosen former sheriff Johnny Mack Brown as temporary replacement.
The grand jury indictments do not offer specifics on the misconduct and obstruction charges, beyond saying the alleged misconduct occurred in January and February 2017, while the obstruction is listed as between April 2017 and February 2018.
Nabors’s attorney has previously released recordings of what he said is Lewis speaking with Nabors about paying for a hotel room together in Nevada with county funds. In the recording, a voice identified as Lewis said “the county’s only going to pay for one room,” but “nobody else from South Carolina” would be at the conference. The recording ends with Lewis ultimately decided against a trip after Nabors said she was uncomfortable with the idea.