South Carolina

'It disgusts me': SC deputy accused of having sex with high school student

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A former deputy working at a South Carolina high school had sex with a 17-year-old student in his patrol car while in uniform, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Wednesday.

Lott said 40-year-old Jamel Bradley is charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct and the investigation into his conduct with other students at Spring Valley High School in Columbia continues.

Bradley, a star basketball player at the University of South Carolina at the turn of the century, had been assigned to the school since 2009 but was removed in 2018 when he was sued in federal court over a relationship with a different student.

The sex act with the 17-year-old that led to Bradley's arrest Wednesday took place last year, Lott said. It did not happen at Spring Valley High School, where Bradley worked and the victim was a student, the sheriff said.

"I'd like to kill you, but I can't do that. I really would. It just disgusts me," Lott said of his former deputy.

Bradley has a bond hearing scheduled for Thursday. Court records indicate his lawyer in the civil suit no longer wants to represent him and there was no attorney listed for the criminal charge.

Lott said investigators are looking at Bradley's interactions with students and others going back to his hiring on the force in 2007. He was fired in October after lying and tampering with an internal investigation into his behavior, the sheriff said.

"It's still a very active investigation. But we felt like he needed to be arrested, and he needed to be arrested today," Lott said.

The federal lawsuit against Bradley and the sheriff's department includes other allegations of Bradley having had inappropriate contact with students.

In one case, he was a girl's friend on Facebook. In another case, a cheerleading coach from a different high school told officials that Bradley might be having inappropriate contact with a cheerleader.

Bradley played basketball at South Carolina from 1998 to 2002. He was the team's leading scorer as a junior and senior and still owns the Gamecocks record with 264 3-pointers.

Bradley lost most of his hearing as a child, but the university arranged to get him hearing aids when he first arrived on campus and most of his hearing was restored.