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Lawsuit: Sullivan’s Island police chief texted memes showing drawings of naked women, sex acts

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 5:01 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The chief of a Charleston County police department is facing a new lawsuit that accuses him of sending messages containing “sexually explicit, racist, demeaning, and inappropriate” images, including cartoon drawings of naked women and depictions of sexual acts.

The Town of Sullivan’s Island and Sullivan’s Island Police Chief Chris Griffin are listed as defendants in a lawsuit that was filed in common pleas court on Wednesday by Emily Lide Ward and Latane Gooding.

The complaint alleges that Griffin approached Ward and Gooding at the South Carolina Police Chiefs Association’s Annual Leadership Conference at a Myrtle Beach resort in Nov. 2019.

Ward and Gooding, who were working at the SCPCA conference’s vendor exposition, were looking at images online and laughing at a meme about a man bun at the time, the lawsuit claims.

Griffin is alleged in the lawsuit to have asked what Ward and Gooding were laughing at before asking them for their phone numbers.

Gooding then sent Griffin and Ward the meme that they were looking at before Griffin “sent almost 20 unanswered and unprompted messages,” asking, “”Like any of those lol,” the complaint alleges.

“All of the images Defendant Griffin sent Plaintiffs were sexually explicit, racist, demeaning, and inappropriate,” the document adds.

“The conduct described above is so outrageous that it should not be tolerated in a civilized society,” the complaint says in part. “Defendant Griffin’s conduct was intentionally outrageous and intended to cause and did cause Plaintiffs great emotional distress.”

The lawsuit accuses the Town of Sullivan’s Island of failing “to remediate or reasonably address Defendant Griffin’s misconduct in any way.”

“What more investigation do you need besides the text messages to determine that this person is totally inappropriate and improper for being the chief of police for a town?” attorney Clay Hopkins, who is representing Ward and Gooding, said in an interview on Thursday.

Sullivan’s Island Town Administrator Andy Benke said that the municipal government “does not comment on pending litigation.” Mayor Pat O’Neil also declined to comment.

Griffin, who has been employed by the Sullivan’s Island Police Department for 24 years, has not yet responded to a request for comment regarding the lawsuit.

In Dec. 2019, the SCPCA terminated Griffin’s association membership. One month later, documents were released showing that two women had filed complaints against Griffin.

The association’s 2021 conference began on Thursday at the same Myrtle Beach resort that is referenced in the lawsuit, but J.J. Jones, the executive director of the SCPCA, said that Griffin is not currently listed as one of their members. Jones declined to comment further.

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