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S.C. Atty. General investigates 2022 rape allegation against Senator Tedder

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – The South Carolina Attorney General’s office is investigating a state Senate member representing Charleston County more than two years after an incident report listed him as a rape suspect.

The District Attorney’s Office on Friday lifted a major redaction in that incident report, which identified incumbent Sen. Deon Tedder, D-Charleston, as a suspect. A heavily redacted incident report obtained by WIS-TV in November provided limited details about an alleged sex crime that occurred in Columbia in April 2022, but did not name a suspect.

Tedder’s name was only revealed as a suspect in the report after Gray Television’s lawyers put pressure on the office for months. The allegations were initially reported by an online news outlet in November.

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

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

The Attorney General’s Office said that if public documents related to the sex crimes investigation were released, it would disrupt current law enforcement procedures, but the agency did not explain how these documents would affect their investigation.

Tedder is an attorney representing SC Senate District 42. He was elected in a special election on March 12, 2023.

The incident report states the woman said the rape occurred in April 2022 at 1105 Shop Road in Columbia, which Richland County property records show is The Row at Stadium off-campus townhomes.

The Columbia Police Department report lists the incident type as criminal sexual conduct in the second degree, which under South Carolina law is when the “actor uses aggravated force to achieve sexual battery.”

The narrative portion of the report, written by a Columbia police officer, states: “I was dispatched to the incident location in response to a CSC (criminal sexual conduct). I contacted the victim who stated she was inappropriately touched through 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 edited pages are labeled “Additional Story.”

Gray’s attorneys argued that redacting the entire story violates South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The law increases transparency and was introduced so that the public can stay informed about how their government is functioning. Although police can, and often do, redact incident reports, they are not required to do so.

Timeline of archive requests

The initial publication of the incident report by the Columbia Police Department contained all redactions. When asked about the reason for the redaction, the city’s Public Prosecution Service gave the following answer:

Given the nature of the allegations, in fairness to both the victim and the alleged subject, we decline to tell the story under both the law enforcement and privacy exemptions.

The city attorney’s office also said in an email that the matter was under investigation by the attorney general’s office, which prevented them from releasing further information under FOIA. South Carolina Law Enforcement confirmed they are also assisting the Columbia Police Department in the investigation.

A separate FOIA request filed by WIS-TV with the attorney general’s office on Jan. 26 requested, among other things, all arrest warrants, affidavits, photographs and video recordings related to the allegations against Tedder. The District Attorney’s Office provided the same copy of the incident report, with the same redactions, as the City of Columbia.

The office cited several reasons for withholding documents and redacting the incident report, including that releasing the unredacted documents would violate personal privacy, that releasing the documents would interfere with a law enforcement proceeding and attorney-client privilege .

It is still unclear whether the Public Prosecution Service will release the full incident report.

The South Carolina attorney general’s office declined to explain why the case is open and whether the state plans to file charges or close the case anytime soon.

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

Tedder has not been charged in this investigation, which is ongoing. In South Carolina, criminal sexual conduct in the second degree is “a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison” under state law.

Tedder released a statement regarding the allegations:

These two-year-old allegations are not true. This rumor campaign against me started after I won the special election for Senate and now this is coming out today, just days before the election, making it very clear that this is a politically motivated blow. Again, these allegations are not true, and it is an insult to my family and me, and it is a sad attempt to distract voters right before the election.

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

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