Crime & Courts

Richland County Sheriff’s deputy fired after sexual conduct with minor charges

A Richland County Sheriff’s Deputy was fired after being charged with sex crimes against a minor.

“In my more than 40 years of law enforcement, never have I run across such a disgraceful act from one of our own,” said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

Derek Vandenham, 34, was charged with solicitation of a minor and second degree attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor between the ages of 11 and 14. The department did not provide many details except that Vandenham was hired as a deputy in August 2015.

Judge Mildred Rita Metts gave Vandenham a $10,000 bond for the solicitation charge and stipulated he have no internet access except for work or school, no social media use and no unsupervised contact with minors, according to court records. He also will have to wear a tracking device. As of Wednesday afternoon, Vandenham was still in Alvin S. Glenn detention center.

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Vandenham is scheduled for his first court appearance in September.

“I am disgusted by this deputy’s attempted actions, which is why I had him stripped of his gun and badge, and fired immediately,” Lott said. “And I’ll recommend his certification be revoked so he never works in law enforcement again.”

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.