Midlands men taking stand against sex assault

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Allegations of sexual misconduct continue to stack up against a growing list of influential and nationally prominent men. And those revelations may be helping to spur interest in a Midlands campaign aimed at supporting efforts against harassment and assault.

Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands sponsors an annual campaign to raise awareness and money to battle sexual assault.

The campaign called "100 Men Against Sexual Assault" asks men to pledge $100 or more to fund the organization's operations.

More than a hundred have donated to the effort which runs until November 30th.

Supporter and STSM board President John Wilkinson says while the vast majority of men are not sex offenders, the vast majority of sex offenders are men.

"This campaign is our opportunity as the majority of those men to say we are not OK with this. We are not OK with sexual assault in our community. We are not going to stand for it," Wilkinson says.

Agency Executive Director Mary Dell Hayes the rate of rape in South Carolina has been higher than the rate of rape nationally since 1982.

"Without a doubt in my mind, I can say that we have a huge problem in our community where violence goes unaddressed," Hayes says.

Sexual harassment claims targeting powerful public figures have not been confined to well-known national politicians, actors and media figures.

Former Richland County Recreation Commission Executive Director James Brown III was named in multiple lawsuits filed by employees before he retired under pressure last year.

Two of the complaints accused Brown of sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting the harassment.

One lawsuit said Brown used his post to coerce female commission employees into sexual contact with him during a three year period from 2012 to 2015.

An attorney overseeing the lawsuits tells WIS News 10 the suits containing the harassment allegations have been settled.

The exact amount of the settlements is supposed to be confidential, but a source describes the payments and expenses paid in connection with the complaint by former financial officer Andrea Fripp James as totaling more than $130,000.

Two remaining lawsuits could go to trial early next year.

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