AG investigates rape allegation against SC senator after 2 years, no arrest made

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – The South Carolina Attorney General's Office is investigating Sen. Deon Tedder (D-Charleston), more than two years after he was named as a rape suspect in an incident report.

The Attorney General's Office on Friday removed a key deletion in the incident report that identified the sitting senator as a suspect.

WIS Investigates obtained the heavily redacted report on a sex crime in Columbia in November. Tedder's name was not included as a suspect in the report until after Gray Television's lawyers pressured the office for months.

The allegations were first reported by an online news channel in November.

Two copies of the incident report – one with the suspect's information redacted and another without that information. WIS Investigates received a copy of the incident report with Senator Deon Tedder's name on June 7, 2024.(WIS-TV)

The new senator, who ran for re-election in March, denies the allegations in the incident report.

The Attorney General's Office stated that releasing public documents related to the sex crime investigation would interfere with ongoing prosecutions. However, the Attorney General's Office did not explain what impact these documents would have on its investigation.

Tedder is an attorney representing South Carolina's 42nd Senate District. He was elected to office in a special election on March 12, 2023.

According to the incident report, the woman said the rape occurred in April 2022 at 1105 Shop Road in Columbia, which the Richland County Register of Deeds says is home to “The Row at Stadium” off-campus townhouses.

The Columbia Police Department report lists the incident as second-degree sexual abuse, which under South Carolina law occurs when the perpetrator “uses severe force to commit a sexual assault.”

The descriptive portion of the report, written by a Columbia police officer, states: “I was dispatched to the scene of an accident in response to a CSC. [criminal sexual conduct]I contacted the victim, who stated that she had been touched inappropriately by the clothing and later [redacted]“The victim did not consent to the sexual act.”

Four additional pages of the incident report remain redacted. Three of the redacted pages are labeled “Additional Report.”

Gray's lawyers argue that redacting the entire report violates South Carolina's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The law increases transparency and is designed to allow the public to stay informed about how their government works. While police departments can, and often do, redact incident reports, they are not required to do so.

Timeline of dataset requirements

WIS Investigates first requested the incident report from CPD on November 20 and received it with the deletions the next day.

When WIS Investigates asked for a reason for the deletions, the DA's office said, “Given the nature of the allegations, out of fairness to the victim and the alleged individual, we decline to disclose the facts of the case, citing law enforcement and privacy exceptions.”

The city attorney's office also said in an email that the case is being investigated by the Attorney General's Office and cannot release any additional information under FOIA. South Carolina law enforcement confirmed that they are also assisting CPD in the investigation.

WIS Investigates filed a separate FOIA request with the Attorney General's Office on January 26, requesting, among other things, all arrest warrants, affidavits, photographs and video recordings related to the allegations against Tedder.

The Attorney General's Office provided WIS Investigates with the same copy of the incident report, with identical deletions, as the City of Columbia.

The office cited several reasons for withholding the records and redacting the incident report. Among them, releasing the unredacted records would be an invasion of privacy, interfere with a criminal proceeding, and violate attorney-client privilege.

It is still unclear whether the Attorney General's Office will release the full incident report.

WIS Investigates asked the Attorney General's Office why the case is still open and whether the state plans to file charges soon or drop the case.

The office responded in an email on Friday: “It is the policy of the Attorney General's Office not to comment on the existence or lack of an investigation.”

Tedder has not been charged in this ongoing investigation. In South Carolina, second-degree sexual abuse is “a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 20 years,” according to state law.

WIS Investigates has reached out to Tedder for comment. In a statement, he said, “These 2-year-old allegations are not true. This rumor campaign against me began after I won the special election for State Senate, and now this is coming to light today, just days before the election, making it very clear that this is a politically motivated assassination. Again, these allegations are not true, and it is an insult to my family and me, and a sad attempt to distract voters just before the election.”

Tedder won his seat in a special election in 2023 and is currently running against Kim Greene in Tuesday's primary.

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