Surveillance video of fired cop, alleged teen prostitute released

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Richland County Sheriff's Department has released surveillance video of a former Columbia police officer and an alleged teen prostitute after what investigators say was a tryst at a Columbia area motel.

Deputies arrested Mark A. Cornish, 32, last Friday after receiving a tip that a uniformed officer entered a room at the Econo Lodge off Two Notch Rd. with a known prostitute, identified as a 17-year-old.

When deputies arrived at the scene, Sheriff Leon Lott said Cornish fled in his patrol car. He was found later in the afternoon just a few blocks from the scene.

Deputies said Cornish had met the woman on more than one occasion.

In the video, you can see a girl coming out of one of the rooms and, seconds later, a police officer in full uniform walks out of the same room and heads in the other direction.  Investigators say that police officer was Mark Cornish.

Video from the motel parking lot shows the officer get into a Columbia police cruiser and drive off.

Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott fired Cornish, who had been on the force for 2 years, on Wednesday. Scott said Cornish was not cooperative in the CPD internal investigation.

"People do things sometimes we don't understand why. And they make mistakes. I beg Columbia -- don't look at this as Columbia Police. This was one person," said Scott. "Columbia PD we'll be fine. We'll move on."

Cornish was a middle school resource officer at W.A. Perry Middle School before being fired, and his Facebook page suggests deep religious interests: he's a Chaplain candidate for the US Army, and he's studying at Liberty University for his master's in divinity. He's also married, according to the page.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.