Woman suing Pickens, city police department for alleged sex assault

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — The city of Pickens, the Pickens Police Department and a former Pickens police officer have been named in a lawsuit by a woman who alleges the officer molested her in 2014.

The lawsuit, filed in June, stems from an incident at a laundromat in Pickens in June 2014. The victim alleges that Officer Robert L. Sapp threatened to arrest her if she did not walk to the side of the laundromat with him. He then fondled her, the lawsuit claims.

“Defendant Sapp’s physical contact with Plaintiff was not consensual and constituted a harmful and offensive touching,” the lawsuit states.

Sapp denied any and all physical contact with the plaintiff, the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit documents, a subsequent South Carolina Law Enforcement Division investigation determined that Sapp “did in fact inappropriately and unlawfully touch and assault Plaintiff while on duty as a police officer.”

Records show DNA evidence secured from the plaintiff matched Sapp’s DNA profile, the lawsuit claims. GPS records from his police cruiser showed that it had been at the laundromat longer than Sapp had claimed, according to the suit.

Sapp resigned from the Pickens Police Department in July 2014. He was arrested in October 2014 and charged with first-degree assault, misconduct in office and malfeasance or nonfeasance.

The lawsuit accuses him of battery, assault and violating the victim’s civil rights.

The lawsuit claims the city and its police department bear responsibility for hiring Sapp. The suit claims that “these defendants knew or reasonably should have known that Defendant Sapp had a marked history of abusing his authority as a police officer while on the job as a police officer, particularly as it pertains to his interactions with female citizens.”

The lawsuit alleges that Sapp had a “documented history of employing excessive and unreasonable force and engaging in police misconduct that violated the civil rights of individuals — particularly female citizens — while he was employed as a law enforcement officer.”

Through legal representation, Pickens officials have denied the lawsuit’s allegations.