A Marion police officer has filed a lawsuit against former Marion Police Chief Dewayne Tennie and the City of Marion, claiming she was raped by Tennie on multiple occasions and the city still has not taken corrective action.
The female officer is suing for sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, retaliation, slander and defamation per se against Defendant Tennie, and assault and battery, according to the lawsuit.
The officer began employment with the City of Marion Police Department in February, 2008, says the lawsuit. She remains an employee.
Tennie became chief of police for the department in 2014. The officer admits to having sexual relations with Tennie on numerous occasions from 2014 to 2018.
At one point, the officer claims she was texting a male friend on her phone when Tennie came up and began to read the text and “didn’t like it”. He allegedly grabbed and twisted her wrist and put his fist up “like he was going to hit” her, according to the lawsuit. The officer threatened to call the Sheriff, to which Tennie allegedly replied, “we will both lose our jobs”.
The officer also alleges that Tennie raped her twice..
“Chief Tennie forced me to have sex with him because he was my supervisor, he threatened me, and he raped me,” she said in the lawsuit.
Weeks later, the lawsuit suggests Tennie sent numerous messages from his department cell phone to the officer, to which she replied back, “leave me alone!” The officer then threatened to go to the mayor if Tennie didn’t leave her alone. At one point, the lawsuit suggests Tennie replied back, “I have kids. You can’t go to the mayor…”
The officer claims Tennie then raped her again in February of 2018.
She said in the lawsuit that Tennie would make her job “a living hell” when she did not want to have relations with him. At one point, Tennie allegedly yelled at her in front of the Marion City Clerk of Court, the victim’s advocate and a city police officer in the courtroom while court was in session, criticizing her for not hearing the receptionist calling for someone to fingerprint an individual. The officer’s radio was off “because it is a rule that all radios must be turned off while court is in session”, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also claims the City of Marion “was and is aware of the illegal sexual harassment, and failed and continues to fail to take corrective action.”
A press release from City of Marion Publicist Vicki Nichols said Tennie was placed on administrative leave with pay on March 2, 2018, “due to a pending investigation.” The city said no other information would be released because the investigation involved a “personnel matter.” Tennie resigned from the position of police chief nearly three weeks later.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division spokesperson Thom Berry confirmed in early March that SLED was investigating allegations made against Tennie, but would not expand on the content of those allegations.
Marion City Council negotiated a severance package for Tennie, and on March 28, officials said the city had reached an agreement with Tennie.
That agreement, obtained by News13, says the city will pay Tennie $35,600 for the former police chief’s agreement to “fully release and discharge the Employer of and from any and all grievances, charges, employment contracts, suits, legal actions or claims of any nature whatsoever regarding the Employer’s employment policies and practices or Employee’s separation from employment with the Employer.”
WBTW News13 has reached out to the City of Marion for comment on the lawsuit.
SLED officials told News13 the case against Tennie is still open.