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A former South Carolina sheriff’s deputy is accused of having sex with an underage Columbia high school student in his patrol car.
Jamel Bradley, 40, formerly of the Richland County Sheriff's Department, has been charged with third-degree sexual misconduct. He was arrested on Wednesday.
Bradley is accused of having sex with a teenage student at Spring Valley High School, where he supposedly worked for most of the past decade as a school resource officer.
During a news conference on Wednesday, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott expressed his disgust for Bradley, calling the case “disturbing,” and his former deputy a “sexual predator” and a “monster.”
The alleged incidents occurred off-campus in 2018, Lott said. The alleged victim was 17 at the time.
“He was in my uniform and he was in our patrol car,” Lott said. “It makes me sick to my stomach that we had someone who did that.”
In 2018, Bradley was reassigned from Spring Valley High School to the agency’s warrants division for another “inappropriate” incident, Lott explained. He was terminated from sheriff’s department last month after the 40-year-old supposedly interfered with an internal probe into his conduct, officials said.
“It’s difficult to stand here and have to apologize to our victim, to her parents, and to this community but it’s something I have to do,” Lott said. “It’s my responsibility as sheriff to do that so I do apologize — I’m sorry that we had someone that I call a sexual predator. Unfortunately, we had a monster that worked among us.”
When one reporter asked if he had a message for Bradley, Lott didn’t hold back.
“I’d like to kill you, but I can’t do that,” he said. “I really would. It just disgusts me.”
Lott told reporters that he wasn’t sure if there were more victims, but encouraged any student who may have had inappropriate contact with Bradley to come forward.
“Anything we find that he’s done that’s criminal, he’s going to be charged with it,” Lott said. “At this point, it’s still a very active investigation, but we felt he needed to be arrested today. It needed to be done.”
Other police officials agreed that Bradley’s alleged actions were unforgivable.
“All of our deputies are constantly and continually, day-in and day-out, out here working with people and out in the community, and to have one person who wore the same uniform that we did do something like this — there’s just no words,” Captain Maria Yturria, a Richland County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman, told Oxygen.com. “It’s a horrible situation.”
Yturria said Bradley tainted her department’s reputation.
“It’s a complete betrayal to the badge,” she said. “It’s a complete betrayal to the department and to these students he was supposed to be protecting. He betrayed everybody’s trust.”
Bradley is also the subject of a separate federal civil suit involving a different unidentified minor from Spring Valley High School, who also claimed she was sexually assaulted by the former deputy. He’s accused of “unwanted and illegal kissing, sexual touching, and sexual fondling,” of the teen on two occasions in March 2018.
Bradley allegedly carried out the assaults “behind locked doors” in his office on the school’s campus. The complaint describes him as a “‘unicorn' in the force” who was “above reproach.”
The victim is also suing the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Richland County School District. The suit alleges both sheriff’s department and school district administrators failed to act on the allegations against the former deputy despite multiple complaints lodged against him.
“This was the [Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s] fourth ‘internal investigation’ into reports of illegal and inappropriate sexualized conduct made against Deputy Bradley,” the complaint reads.
Bradley allegedly took a polygraph test following the accusations, in which he was “purposefully evasive, rendering the test ungradable,” according to the federal suit against him.
“Jane Doe is prepared to fight until justice is served, and this goes far beyond the recent termination and arrest of Deputy Bradley,” James B. Moore III, the victim’s lawyer, told Oxygen.com.
Bradley is also a former star varsity basketball player. The disgraced deputy, who is reportedly partially deaf, used to play for the University of South Carolina, where he gained notoriety as a three-point shooter. In 2002, Sports Illustrated featured a profile on Bradley, applauding his rise in the NCAA. In the article, Bradley described himself as a “role model” to other deaf children.
“It's amazing how many people want me to talk to their child,” he told the magazine. “I'm the type of guy who's willing to talk to anyone whenever I get the time.”
Bradley was scheduled to appear in court on Thursday for a bond hearing.
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