Questions remain over details in lawsuit against Sullivan’s Island police chief

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:06 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 7:14 PM EST
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SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The town of Sullivan’s Island and its police chief are facing a lawsuit.

It accuses Chief Chris Griffin of sending sexually explicit, inappropriate, and racist memes to two women at a law enforcement conference in 2019.

But, we’ve gotten two different answers regarding when those women first made the town aware of these allegations.

The town administrator, Andy Benke, says he never received a complaint from these two women until they filed a lawsuit in October. But that’s not what their lawyer says.

Live 5 first saw the explicit images that Chief Griffin reportedly sent the two women when that lawsuit was filed. The suit mentioned that the women had filed formal complaints against Griffin, but that no disciplinary action was taken.

Back when the suit was filed, Live 5 requested the chief’s personnel records through the Freedom of Information Act.

Hundreds of pages were sent back, but no complaints or files about the texts were included, aside from the suit itself.

When asked where the complaints were, Benke said they were not in the file, since they were not aware of them until the lawsuit.

Benke says the town only opened an investigation after the former Mount Pleasant police chief Carl Ritchie and Ryan Alphin, the former head of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers’ Association, provided images of the messages to him.

Here was Benke’s email response to us:

“I never received a complaint from them until the litigation was filed. In fact you may have forwarded the lawsuit before the town was ever served. Images were given to me by Chief Ritchie and Ryan Alphin. The investigation was opened at that time.”

The attorney for the two women, Clay Hopkins, says the affidavits from each of his clients were submitted to the town back in December of 2019. He provided copies of those affidavits, in which the women alleged that Chief Griffin’s messages made them uncomfortable.

“If the Town intends to assert that it was unaware of my clients’ complaints, I look forward to addressing that during discovery in this case,” Hopkins said in an email.

These affidavits were not in the personnel records for Chief Griffin that we obtained.

Live 5 asked the Town of Sullivan’s Island for an interview, but their attorneys declined.

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