The state’s top law enforcement agency is investigating an allegation of forcible fondling by a candidate for the state Senate.
Democrat Mike Fanning of Great Falls allegedly had an “inappropriate relationship” with a female student at Estill High School while he was a Hampton County teacher in 1993, according to a police report filed last month with the Hampton sheriff’s office.
Fanning, 49, a former teacher who defeated incumbent state Sen. Creighton Coleman of Winnsboro in the June Democratic primary, has not been charged with a crime. However, the State Law Enforcement Division has accepted the Hampton sheriff’s request to look into the allegation.
Fanning denies breaking any laws, according to his attorney, state Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington.
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“At this stage in the election process, being 22 days before the election, you have to question the information, the timing and the political motivation,” Malloy said.
The two-paragraph incident report, filed Sept. 29 by a now-40-year-old woman, offers no more details about the alleged relationship.
Fanning’s general election opponent, Republican Mark Palmer of York, said he was surprised to read about the allegation online.
“I’ve got a high school girl that age. The thought of something like that is very disturbing,” said Palmer, 57. “If these allegations are true, they show he is unfit to serve in elected office.”
Fanning taught at Estill High School and, later, at Columbia High School in Richland County.
He currently is the executive director of the Olde English Consortium, a Chester-based nonprofit that works to promote education in nine school districts and two universities in the north-central region of South Carolina.