A trip to a Sumter County retirement club two weeks ago could end up costing 23-year law enforcement veteran Doug Belote a lot. Belote is a former candidate for sheriff of Sumter County.
Belote is accused of grabbing a female worker, a woman he's known since high school, and forcing himself on her. An assault that lasted several minutes according to a criminal report.
Belote says he didn't even know he was under investigation until days later.
"I literally got sick to my stomach," he said. "I mean, I couldn't believe it. Matter of fact, I called my wife and my best friend and talked to them, to try to make sense out of this. It was unbelievable."
Belote says no sexual encounter ever happened.
He says he did go to the Midlands Retired Military Association just before noon on July 3rd. He said he spoke to the woman, then left.
Hours later, Belote says he got a text from the woman's number:
"'Don't you ever put your hands on me again and the police have been notified,'" he recalled.
"I got the text message later that afternoon that her boyfriend had her cell phone and he was the one sending the text messages," said Belote. (They said) "I'm sorry, Steve had my phone."
That Steve, is Steve Hendrix, the man who filed the report accusing Belote of attempted rape.
The report shows Hendrix told deputies the woman is his sister. But the woman tells us they're not related.
He filed the report with Sumter County nearly 10 hours after the alleged crime. First, reporting a stolen motorcycle that turned into an assault report.
Belote's attorney, EJ Mercer, didn't buy the story from the start.
"To look for a motorcycle all of a sudden becomes an assault that occurred," said Mercer. "According to this report, 10 hours earlier."
WIS was were there Monday as two SLED agents showed up to interview Belote at his attorney's office.
Mercer says this case looks a lot like the Duke Lacrosse case, where a stripper accused a group of college players of rape, which turned out to be untrue. But the damage was already done.
"It's already destroying my character, or attempting to," said Belote. "My family, my friends--close friends, they know the real deal behind this. But there's a lot of people in Sumter County who will remember me come November 6th as the guy who tried to rape a girl."
Belote is considering running for sheriff as a write-in candidate in November.
The alleged victim in the case told WIS she has no comment. WIS was not able to reach Steve Hendrix, the man who filed the report.
SLED says the case is still open and active. There's no word yet on how close SLED may be to closing the case.