Crime & Courts

Former Orangeburg County deputy arrested on misconduct charges

Dereck Johnson
Dereck Johnson Photo provided by the Orangeburg County Detention Center

A former Orangeburg County sheriff’s deputy is facing misconduct charges after a woman filed a sexual assault complaint against him.

The State Law Enforcement Division arrested Dereck Johnson, 35, on Wednesday for misconduct in office, a charge that carries up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Johnson was fired by Sheriff Leroy Ravenell while SLED’s investigation was underway.

According to the arrest warrant, Johnson responded to a domestic dispute on June 12. While in uniform and on duty, Johnson engaged in a sexual act with the woman whose name is withheld in the warrant.

The woman’s attorney, state Rep. Justin Bamberg, said, however, the act was not consensual.

Johnson allegedly told the woman he would arrest her boyfriend if she didn’t comply with his request, said Bamberg, a Democrat who represents Bamberg, Barnwell and Colleton counties. The woman and the officer were inside the couple’s home when the alleged assault took place. The woman’s boyfriend was in the patrol car.

During a bond hearing, a judge set a September trial date and said Johnson, who appeared in court without a lawyer, could be released from jail on $10,000 bond.

Bamberg applauded SLED’s arrest, but announced he’s considering proposing legislation that would mimic an existing Georgia law that criminalizes sexual acts by officers while on duty.

“I don’t believe consent exists based on the power structure,” Bamberg said. “When someone has a badge, a gun and a uniform, you can’t legitimately consent, when they are the ones who can arrest you, who can shoot you or tase you.”

The proposed legislation would make it a felony that would carry no less than 30 days in prison, to help deter the behavior and because of the stress brought on when an officer abuses the power of authority of the job.

Bamberg also has previously told The State newspaper he’s considering legislation that would have SLED investigate all potential felonies alleged to have been committed by local police. He said an impartial source should conduct such probes to help rebuild the public’s trust in police.

Bamberg also represents the family of Walter Scott, a black motorist who was shot and killed while fleeing from a North Charleston police officer during a traffic stop on April 4, 2015. The officer, Michael Slager, was fired and charged with murder. His trial is scheduled to start Oct. 31.

The Associated Press contributed. Cynthia Roldán: 803-295-0435, @CynthiaRoldan