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Longtime SC lawmaker arrested, accused of assaulting female legislator

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A South Carolina state representative has turned himself in to Richland County Sheriff's deputies amid an investigation into an alleged assault.

According to deputies, Rep. Jerry Govan turned himself in around 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

The alleged assault occurred at the South Carolina State House in May.

According to an incident report, the department was asked to open an investigation on October 11.

The Fifth Court Solicitor's Office reviewed the department's investigation and presented their investigation to the magistrate's office. They were then able to determine their was probable cause and issued a warrant for Govan's arrest.

According to an incident report, a State House security officer heard an argument in a back conference room around 10:40 a.m. on May 11. The officer saw Reps. Gilda Cobb-Hunter and Govan having a verbal altercation. The officer "observed Govan raise his arm and bring it down in an attempt to grab or push" Rep. Cobb-Hunter, according to the report.

Following Govan's arrest Thursday, House Speaker Jay Lucas emphasized that the House of Representatives has a "zero tolerance policy for unwanted contact of any kind."

In a statement, Lucas went on to say that once the incident was brought to his attention it was investigated by an outside counsel. After what he calls an "exhaustive investigation," that outside counsel could not conclude an assault happened.

"Representative Govan’s decision to turn himself in suggests a separate conclusion has been reached by Richland County law enforcement," Lucas said in a statement. "I believe this conclusion is based upon altered testimony or a differing recollection of events than those available to me throughout the House’s investigation. Given these inconsistencies that have now arisen five months after the initial event, this matter is best handled through the criminal justice system."

Lucas adds that he is willing to assist law enforcement in any way by sharing information gathered during the House's investigation of the matter.

Cobb-Hunter filed a complaint about the matter with the sheriff's department in September.

Govan's waived his rights to appear in bond court Thursday afternoon, however, his PR bond was set at $1,087.50.

Cobb-Hunter also did not appear at the court.


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