Politics & Government

Former SC legislator pleads guilty in sexual harassment case

A former state lawmaker has pleaded guilty in a Richland County court room to charges he inappropriately touched a woman in his State House office.

Former state Rep. Nelson Hardwick, R-Horry, pleaded guilty Nov. 18 to a charge of third-degree assault and battery. Hardwick resigned his House seat last year amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Hardwick, 65, of Surfside Beach, paid a fine of $300 on the same day of his guilty plea, according to court documents. When various court fees are factored in, Hardwick ended up paying $747.50 in total, the records show.

Hardwick resigned his seat in May 2015, in the middle of his sixth term in the House of Representatives, when the House speaker’s office turned information about an alleged incident over to the S.C. Attorney General’s office.

An indictment was issued against Hardwick in October 2015 for misconduct in office, alleging the lawmaker “abuse(d) his position and power” to “lure an employee into this office and inappropriately touch her against her will.”

Republican Russell Fry replaced Hardwick in his District 106 seat, winning a special election in September 2015 while running unopposed.

Neither Hardwick nor his attorney, L. Morgan Martin, responded to a request for comment early Friday.