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Charleston Co. Emergency Management director accused of confining, assaulting woman

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 3:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The director of Emergency Management for Charleston County is facing charges after being accused of kidnapping and assaulting a woman at her James Island home.

Jason Patno faces charges of kidnapping, first-degree assault and battery, and first-degree burglary. He was arrested on Thursday afternoon. The county has placed him on unpaid leave.

Charleston County Administrator Bill Tuten released the following statement:

Earlier today, I was informed of the arrest of Mr. Jason Patno, Director of Emergency Management. Mr. Patno has been placed on unpaid leave while the County investigates this matter. I have the utmost confidence that law enforcement and the Solicitor’s Office will handle this professionally and appropriately.

Arrest affidavits state that the charges stem from an incident on April 2019 when Panto entered the victim’s house without permission and stayed in the home despite being ordered by the victim to leave.

Court records state that when Patno learned that his actions were being recorded, he assaulted the victim by pushing her to the floor and then proceeded to physically confine the victim within the bedroom by pinning her to the floor, preventing her from escaping.

According to arrest affidavits, during the course of the confinement, the suspect repeatedly assaulted the victim by using his hands and a belt to strike her. Court records state the suspect also forcibly restricted the victim’s breathing by placing his hand over her nose and mouth in an attempt at suffocating her.

The victim said during the incident the suspect told her, “Let’s see how you do when you can’t breathe,” and “I’ve got nothing to lose, I’ll kill you right now!”

Investigation into 2019 incident

The investigation began this May when a police officer met with the victim regarding a past assault. The victim said she had a relationship with Patno during which she endured both physical and mental abuse by the suspect which culminated in an assault on Easter Sunday on April 21, 2019.

The victim said that on that day she and the suspect were at his home on James Island, and during this time the suspect’s dog escaped from the home into the neighborhood. When this happened, court records state the suspect became enraged and blamed the victim for not shutting the door properly and demanded she help locate the dog.

During the search of the dog, the victim said she and the suspect engaged in a heated verbal dispute which the suspect again blamed the victim for losing his dog, and in his enraged state, vandalized her vehicle by throwing his bicycle into her car. Court records state detectives reviewed video of the incident.

Suspect appears at victim’s home

The victim said she continued to receive calls and texts from the suspect until that afternoon when he arrived at her home unannounced. The victim said she could see immediately that the suspect was still angry and refused to allow him inside the home. According to the victim, while on the porch, the suspect demanded the return of a rain jacket, however due to his enraged state, the victim became afraid for her safety and began to audio record the encounter on her cell phone.

When the victim told the suspect she was recording the encounter, the victim said that it further infuriated him and he demanded that the victim delete the recording and followed her into the foyer of the home and threw her to the ground.

Court documents state when this happened, the victim said she demanded the suspect leave the home and refused to stop recording. In response, the victim said the suspect physically overpowered her, dragged her into a nearby bedroom and began to assault her by slapping her and striking her with a belt. Once inside the bedroom, the victim said the suspect intentionally and violently confined her by using his physical size and strength to restrain her to the floor, preventing her from leaving the home.

Arrest affidavits state that while the victim continued to record, the suspect repeatedly and continuously assaulted her and demanded that she either delete the recording or relinquish her cell phone to him. Throughout this incident, the victim said she continuously screamed “get off of me!”, “you’re hurting me!”, “get out of my house!” and “help!”

The victim said when she refused to give into the suspect’s demands to stop recording, the suspect responded by suffocating her by placing his hands over her mouth which prevented her from drawing a full breath. The victim told investigators that she was unable to breathe and feared for her life when the suspect began to say things to the effect of “Let’s see how do when you can’t breathe” and “I’ve got nothing to lose, I’ll kill you right now!”

Court documents state that once the assault reached this point, and in fear of being killed, the victim said she conceded to the suspects demands and deleted the recording at which point the suspect stopped the assault and allowed the victim to leave the home.

The suspect then left the home, the victim reported. The victim said days after the incident, she was able to recover the recording and provide it to detectives.

Court records state detectives reviewed the audio recording which they said was date and time stamped and also corroborated the victim’s account and sequence of events. Authorities said the victim also provided additional supporting documentation which appeared to corroborate her statement as well.

Patno was being held at the Al Cannon Detention Center.

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