Investigation shows House Representative sexually harassed femal - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Investigation shows House Representative sexually harassed female staffer

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

A sexual harassment complaint against Surfside Beach Rep. Nelson Hardwick was validated following an investigation.

Just days ago, according to documents WIS obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, an investigation took place regarding a sexual harassment complaint against Hardwick, 63, from a female house staffer. The incident took place a few weeks ago. That complaint was made to the House Clerk's Office and a private law firm, Fisher & Phillips LLP, did the investigation.

Mobile users, check out several other South Carolina politicians who were forced to resign.

On May 12, Speaker of House Jay Lucas wrote a letter to Hardwick telling him to have no further contact with the female house staffer under any circumstance. Also, the completed investigation into the claim was sent to the House Legislative Ethics Committee and to State Attorney General Alan Wilson.

“I understand that we are at the conclusion of a long legislative year, however, I believe that recent events remind us of how important our supervisory roles are,” Lucas wrote in his letter to Hardwick.

Hardwick wrote a resignation letter dated May 12 stating he was leaving his position in the House effective 5 p.m. that same day. Although, the sexual harassment claim was not his reason given.

“For personal reasons, I feel as though I should step away from life in public service to take some time to focus on my health,” Hardwick wrote.

Hardwick represented Horry County and held that position for 10 years.

Speaker of the House's Counsel Patrick Dennis wrote a letter to House Legislative Ethics Committee Chairman Kenneth Bingham explaining Lucas is not filing a complaint against Hardwick. In addition, Dennis said he did not believe state law requires the investigative report be kept confidential.

Currently, the House of Representatives has the full investigative report and the Attorney General has asked for the S.C. Law Enforcement Division to start a preliminary inquiry into the complaint. However, the House will not release the full investigation report at the request of the Attorney General and SLED, until SLED's inquiry is closed.

Lucas reassured that this is the “first and only complaint of this kind” he's received during his time as Speaker and his tenure in the House.

“That said, however, one complaint is one too many,” Lucas wrote in a May 13 letter to the House Clerk and a House Committee chairman.

Hardwick declined to comment on the investigation.

Copyright 2015 WIS. All rights reserved.

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