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Political Prosecution Doesn’t Just Happen in Wisconsin

The recent news out of Wisconsin that private citizens there were targeted with unfounded investigations and prosecutions should be as scary as it is outrageous to every American. That an innocent person could have their entire lives turned upside down, their property seized, and their reputation smeared by the state on trumped-up charges and allegations is not something that is supposed to happen in America. When we read of the so-called “John Doe” laws in Wisconsin being used to target people with secretive investigations that, after a year of misery for the accused, results in criminal charges being either never formally filed or dismissed, we are rightly disgusted. Many of us may think that, while that may have happened in Wisconsin, it could never happen here in South Carolina.
I am here to tell you that it can, because something very similar happened to me.
On October 14th, 2014 my life was turned upside down when a Greenville City Police Detective swore out a warrant for my arrest on false allegations. My former wife and I had been embroiled in a three-year custody battle over our son, after she left our marriage in July 2011 shortly after his birth, which had reached an impasse. My former wife remarried within twelve weeks of our divorce being finalized to a man who, almost immediately thereafter, needed to move to Texas for his job. Instead of facing the very likely possibility that the Greenville Family Court was going to reject her motion to leave SC with our son, since we were exercising joint custody, she twice decided to go to local police departments to file molestation claims against me. Accusing me of molesting our own son was the way in which she planned to circumvent the Family Court process so that she could have our son, and leave this state with her new spouse.
That is not the worst part.
It is one thing for a private citizen to make crazy claims against someone with whom they are having serious disagreements; it is another thing entirely for an officer of the law to abuse his or her authority to attack the accused because they are a public person. Even after the allegations against me had been cleared by the City of Mauldin Police Department, the SC Department of Social Services, and all forensic interviews, a city of Greenville detective had me arrested on false allegations made in a Family Court dispute. I was placed in the Greenville County Detention Center early in the afternoon of October 14, 2014, denied bond – because the charge against me carried a life sentence for which the magistrate judge did not have the authority to grant bond without superior court approval – and left there until early Saturday morning. All the while, my face was plastered all over local media when the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office released my photo to the press, and I was painted as a criminal offender by a spokesperson for the Greenville City Police.
More than twenty-four hours after I was arrested with no evidence and put into prison, the same Greenville City Police detective who had sworn out the warrant against me obtained a search warrant to raid my residence, take my computers, cell phones, and other electronic equipment, all to try and justify an arrest that was made based on no evidence. This kind of abuse of the state’s police powers ought to be concerning to every citizen of every state in this country, regardless of their political beliefs. Having your life turned upside down without cause, and then never receiving so much as an apology or financial restitution from the government is a disgrace in a free republic.
What happened in Wisconsin is atrocious, but it has happened here as well. Conservatives and liberals alike should take a hard look at the limits of prosecutorial discretion, police immunity, and the protections we have under the Bill of Rights. While the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers and prosecutors are working on behalf of the public good, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the constitutional rights we cherish.

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