COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Columbia police officer has been fired after Richland County deputies said they caught him with a 17-year-old prostitute, according to a department spokesperson.
Deputies arrested Mark A. Cornish, 32, after receiving a tip that a uniformed officer entered a motel room with a known prostitute, identified as a 17-year-old.
When deputies arrived at the scene, Sheriff Leon Lott said Cornish fled in his patrol car. He was found later in the afternoon a few blocks from the scene.
Deputies say Cornish has met the woman on more than one occasion.
Police Chief Randy Scott said such behavior is unacceptable for an officer. "You represent an agency, the community and what's good in society," said Scott.
Scott says, in a four minute exchange, he fired Cornish, who'd been with CPD for two years.
Initially, Scott wanted to wait until the investigation was over before deciding Cornish's fate, but that changed after Scott said Cornish refused to cooperate with investigators.
"People do things sometimes we don't understand why. And they make mistakes. I beg Columbia -- don't look at this as Columbia Police. This was one person," said Scott. "Columbia PD we'll be fine. We'll move on."
Cornish was a middle school resource officer at W.A. Perry Middle School before being fired, and his Facebook page suggests deep religious interests: he's a Chaplain candidate for the US Army, and he's studying at Liberty University for his master's in divinity. He's also married, according to the page.