By Paul Gable
The news on virtually every media outlet in the state today is that the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is not investigating charges that former 4th Circuit solicitor Jay Hodge molested several boys while their Boy Scout leader decades ago.
Two of the victims, now men in their 30’s and 40’s, filed a lawsuit against Hodge and the Boy Scouts of America several weeks ago alleging the acts by Hodge.
SLED was reportedly requested to review the allegations in the lawsuit for potential criminal charges. Yesterday, a SLED spokesman told media the agency is not currently investigating the allegations. There is no statute of limitations on criminal acts in South Carolina.
What is particularly striking about the SLED decision is that it took the agency approximately the same amount of time (two weeks) to decide not to investigate allegations against Hodge as it took SLED to arrest former Horry Georgetown CASA director Joanne Patterson for embezzlement of grant funds even though all the money could be accounted for.
Patterson reportedly used approximately $30,000 of grant money from the SC Department of Public Safety, given to CASA to purchase two vans, to instead pay more immediate bills to keep two safe houses open and operating.
When an audit of CASA funds was completed, all of the money could be accounted for even though some was used for purposes other than initially obtained for.
Technically, I suppose, a charge of embezzlement might be made against Patterson even though she did not personally benefit from the funds.
But is it too much to ask SLED to spend some time investigating the allegations against Hodge?
Of course it is. If you have political connections, SLED is more apt to protect you than investigate you from what I have seen through the years. The different SLED approaches to the Patterson and Hodge cases seem to support this conclusion.
In the past we have seen SLED waste time attempting to determine the identity of a blogger, called “The Watchman”, just because he was getting on the nerves of several politically connected individuals in Horry County.
We saw SLED give a pass to the Horry County Police Department earlier this year for nine allegations ranging from police misconduct to missing evidence. At least SLED did some investigation in this case.
We have also seen the SLED connections with the Southern Holdings case and the S.C. Budget and Control Board.
From what we can see, Hodge has nothing to worry about with regard to criminal acts.