By Meg Kinnard
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A former South Carolina sheriff’s deputy was arrested Wednesday on allegations that he forced a woman to perform a sex act by threatening to arrest her boyfriend if she didn’t comply, the state’s top law enforcement agency said.
Dereck Johnson, 35, was charged by the State Law Enforcement Division with felony misconduct in office, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. That charge carries a possible penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
After the allegation surfaced last month, Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell quickly fired Johnson and asked state police to investigate. In a statement issued Wednesday, Ravenell said his office supported the investigation and the charges by the state agency.
Johnson was one of two officers who responded to a domestic violence call early on the morning of June 12. State Rep. Justin Bamberg, an attorney who represents the woman involved, has said that one deputy remained outside with her boyfriend while Johnson was inside the home with the woman.
According to Bamberg’s client, Johnson then forced the woman to perform oral sex on him, threatening to arrest her boyfriend if she didn’t.
A judge on Wednesday afternoon set Johnson’s bond at $10,000 for his release, ordering him to have no contact with his alleged victim. Addressing the court without a lawyer, Johnson said he wasn’t a threat to the community and had been cooperative with investigators.
At a news conference outside the courthouse in Orangeburg, Bamberg told reporters that Johnson’s arrest gave some peace of mind to his client, who had feared no one would believe that she had been assaulted by a law officer.
“With the news of today, it feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off her shoulders,” Bamberg said of the woman. “She still has a long road to go.”