DARLINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A Darlington County sheriff’s captain has been fired after News13’s investigation into his alleged misconduct and the conduct of another captain, according to the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office.
Mark Campbell was fired, Sheriff James Hudson said, after News13 reported on more allegations of inappropriate conduct, including reported sexual harassment of several female officers while he was with the Hartsville Police Department.
Campbell told News13 on Tuesday afternoon that he had no comment, but said “If I was put in the same situation as the sheriff’s office, I would have done the exact same thing.”
Another captain, Curtis Bryant, was accused of posting a woman’s nude photos online without her permission while with the Hartsville Police Department. Bryant has been suspended from his current position, Hudson said.
“This email is in response to the recent news story released by WBTW TV13 in reference to the allegations against Captain Mark Campbell and Captain Curtis Bryant during their previous employment with the Hartsville Police Department,” Hudson said in a statement. “It is my responsibility to ensure that the Sheriff’s Office is run with transparency and integrity.”
Hudson said he met with SLED Chief Mark Keel and South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy Director Jackie Swindler on Monday. Keel also chairs South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Training Council, which is the governing body for the Academy.
“I take any allegation of misconduct seriously and I have requested that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division conduct a full investigation into these allegations,” Hudson said.
In January, News13 reported that Campbell was set to be fired from the Hartsville Police Department in 2020 as a result of an Internal Affairs investigation related to Campbell’s interactions with a female Walmart employee. Campbell quit before he was fired.
More recently, we learned of concerns from female Hartsville police officers about Campbell, that were brought forward around the same time period. In one situation, a female officer said Campbell came up behind her, “bear hugged” her and kissed her on the cheek while holding her in the hug from behind. The officer said she was in shock that he had done this. While still holding her in the bear hug from behind, Campbell “pushed his groin into her buttocks”, according to the officer.
Numerous female officers reported Campbell had hugged them and also kissed them on the cheek and forehead on multiple occasions, while Campbell was on duty. He was also accused of grabbing and massaging the shoulders of multiple female officers.
Campbell was hired by the sheriff’s office in Jan. 2021. Hudson told News13 previously that he asked the City of Hartsville and Hartsville Police about Campbell when Hudson was considering adding him to his staff.
“Upon taking office, I went to Hartsville to inquire about any alarms about Campbell and I was told ‘no’ by the city police chief [Jerry Thompson] and city manager [Daniel Moore],” Hudson said.
Sheriff Hudson was made aware of the allegations from the Hartsville officers, against Campbell, by News13.
Bryant was set to be fired from the Hartsville Police Department, but also quit first.
Bryant’s exit from Hartsville was merely labeled a “resignation” instead of a near-termination from an Internal Affairs investigation.
Bryant remains with the sheriff’s office, as of Monday.
In News13’s previous reporting, we spoke to the director of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy about how officers who are accused of wrongdoing or even set to be fired can quit first and therefore, not raise alarm bells to other agencies in the state.
The Academy says agencies are only required to report cases of misconduct to the Academy.
Poor conduct and department policy violations do not necessarily rise to the level of what the Academy defines as “misconduct”. So, even if an officer in South Carolina is found to have violated a department policy and is set to be fired as a result of an Internal Affairs investigation, that information does not need to be reported to the Academy.
To read what the Academy defines as “misconduct”, click this link.
News13 continues to investigate topics discussed in this article. If you have any tips/information you’d like to provide, please e-mail our newsroom at: firstname.lastname@example.org.