HARTSVILLE, SC (WBTW) — A pair of South Carolina Law Enforcement Division investigations that began as a result of News13’s reports about two former members of the Hartsville Police Department are ongoing six months later.
Through a series of reports, News13 uncovered multiple, past internal affairs investigations into the alleged inappropriate conduct of officers who more recently worked as captains with the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office.
On March 13, Darlington County Sheriff James Hudson wrote a letter to SLED Chief Mark Keel, requesting that the state agency investigate the “recently released criminal accusations” first reported by News13.
News13’s investigative series began when Darlington County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Mark Campbell was named the city of Darlington’s new police chief in November, despite previously being fired from the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office for a policy violation. Days after our report on that firing, Campbell backed out as Darlington chief. Initially, he nor the city would say why he backed out but Campbell later claimed to News13 that he changed his mind after considering it further with his family.
Following a community tip, we sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the City of Hartsville that resulted in information about Campbell’s near-firing from Hartsville Police in 2020 for his phone interactions with a female Walmart employee. We later learned, through additional public records requests, that he was accused of sexually harassing multiple female officers within the Hartsville Police Department. Campbell was set to be fired from Hartsville but quit first.
Darlington County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Curtis Bryant was accused of posting a woman’s nude photos online without her permission, in 2019, while he worked with the Hartsville Police Department. He, too, was set to be fired from Hartsville but quit first.
Documents from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, often used in the background check process by law enforcement agencies, didn’t show any red flags about either officer. The Academy told News13 previously that agencies are only required to report cases of misconduct to the Academy. To read what the Academy defines as “misconduct”, click here.
When we brought much of this information to the attention of Sheriff Hudson, he told News13 he did not know about the allegations against them when he hired them. Speaking about Campbell’s 2021 hiring, Hudson said he initially asked then-Hartsville Police Chief Jerry Thompson and Hartsville City Manager Daniel Moore about any alarms with Campbell and was told “no”.
Campbell was fired by the sheriff’s office around the time the March SLED investigation was announced.
Bryant was suspended by the sheriff’s office and placed on administrative leave but returned to work earlier this year, prior to the completion of his SLED investigation. However, Bryant is no longer listed on the department’s command staff page, where he was previously listed as a captain. The sheriff’s office would not say whether this role change was the result of his SLED investigation.
News13’s reporting also led to the sudden resignation of Chief Thompson in February. Thompson has refused comment to News13 on multiple occasions about this series of reports.
On Monday, SLED told us the investigations into Campbell and Bryant were active and ongoing. A public records request News13 sent to SLED in July for documents related to the investigations was denied, in part, because the investigations remain active.
As of Monday, Campbell has not joined any other law enforcement agency in South Carolina since his firing from the sheriff’s office.
Count on News13 for updates about the SLED investigations as they become available.