Prosecutors have filed misconduct charges against a former South Carolina state representative, saying he groped a female staffer after luring her to his office, the Charlotte Observer is reporting.
Rep. Nelson Hardwick (R-Horry) is facing up to 10 years in prison after a Richland County grand jury charged him with one count of misconduct in office over an incident that occurred earlier this year.
Hardwick, who once chaired the state’s Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee, resigned from office in May — midway through his sixth term.
According to the indictment Hardwick lured the staffer to his office where he “inappropriately touched her against her will.”
At the time the incident was reported, fellow Republican and House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) ordered an investigation into the sexual-harassment allegation against Hardwick and found enough evidence to turn the case over to the State Law Enforcement Division.
An emailed statement from attorney L. Morgan Martin — who is representing the 64-year-old former lawmaker — stated: “We were made aware of the indictment earlier today and intend, on Mr. Hardwick’s behalf, to defend any and all accusations of criminal activity,”
The chair of the Legislature’s Women’s Caucus, Rep. Chandra Dillard (D-Greenville), applauded the House’s handling of the issue, and encouraged women to report any incidents “if they feel they have been made to feel uncomfortable.”