Govan: I will be cleared of assault charges involving female lawmaker

Jerry Govan.jpg

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - State representative Jerry Govan says he expects to be "exonerated" of the assault charges against him.

Govan turned himself in to deputies Thursday morning, charged with with third-degree assault in an incident involving Orangeburg Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter.

He waived his right to appear in bond court Thursday afternoon and is free on a $1,087.50 personal recognizance bond.

"It's an unfortunate situation," said Govan shortly after being released Thursday.

Last week, a report released by the Richland County Sheriff's Department said a Statehouse security officer saw Govan try to grab or push Cobb-Hunter back in May.

Govan and Cobb-Hunter were arguing May 11 about a proposal to consolidate Orangeburg school districts.

She said she held out her hand to keep Govan away and he grabbed her wrist and twisted. She said she had to use ice on it for two days to deal with swelling.

Govan has disputed her account and continued to do so after being released from Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center Thursday.

"I am very saddened by the fact that this it has risen to this level," Govan said. "I didn't initiate the contact. I was struck in the face and obviously my response is where we are today."

In a statement released after Govan's arrest early Thursday, Lucas emphasized that the House of Representatives has a "zero tolerance policy for unwanted contact of any kind."

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."

Third degree assault and battery is a misdemeanor. According to state law, Govan could face up to a $500 fine and be sentenced to 30 days in jail if he's found guilty.

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