Three Aiken County women say they were sexually assaulted by their parole officer while they were under the supervision of the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, according to a lawsuit.
The three women, referred to in the lawsuit as Jane Doe-1, Jane Doe-2 and Jane Doe-3, were released by the Board of Paroles and Pardons to finish serving their sentences outside of prison and were subject to certain conditions, including being supervised by a duly appointed agent of the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.
The lawsuit alleges that from July 3, 2017 through Oct. 14, 2019, former Agent George Willie Yeldell of Aiken supervised the three women and "used the resources and abused the power and authority of his office to sexually harass, assault, inappropriately touch and/or rape female offenders, including the three Aiken County women listed, he supervised," according to a press release from Bailey Law Firm, LLC.
The three women described a pattern of "repeated sexual assault, abuse, harassment, inappropriate conduct and unwanted sexual advances" by Yeldell, the lawsuit states.
Incidents alleged include Yeldell forcibly kissing plaintiffs and attempting to force them to perform sex with him during check-ins behind closed doors at the SCDPPPS Office in Aiken County, the news release states.
During all of the alleged encounters, Yeldell was on duty, in uniform, wearing a badge and at the SCDPPPS office in Aiken County.
Yeldell was charged on May 6 with misconduct in office for facilitating "sexual relations with offenders he supervised" between July 3, 2017 and Oct. 14, 2019, according to an affidavit provided by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
No additional charges have been issued against Yeldell since his arrest in May, SLED Public Information Office Tommy Crosby said. Yeldell's case remains open and is awaiting trial.
Attorney Tyler D. Bailey is representing the three Aiken County women.
“My clients’ status as former offenders is not a free license to strip them of their dignity and civil rights and certainly is not consent to be sexually assaulted," Bailey said in a news release. "Agent Yeldell abused his authority and took advantage of his position of power by subjecting my clients to repeated outrageous sexual abuse. The South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services was grossly negligent in failing to properly train and supervise Agent Yeldell, negligence that has caused significant negative and permanent impact on my clients’ lives."
In addition to Yeldell, the lawsuit was filed against the SCDPPPS, Director Jerry B. Ager and Ashley Finch, with SCDPPPS who supervised Yeldell at the time of the alleged assaults.
Each plaintiff is seeking for judgment against the defendants both jointly and in combination thereof for actual, consequential and punitive damages, costs and reasonable attorney fees.
Bailey believes that Jane Doe-1, Jane Doe-2 and Jane Doe-3 are not the only individuals to have been assaulted by Yeldell and said there will be more lawsuits to follow.
"We hope that these lawsuits blow the cover off of the dark activity taking place within the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon’s organization, force the implementation of new necessary hiring, training and supervision policies, and hold all involved parties accountable for the harm caused to my clients ensuring there are no other victims of this type of egregious abuse of power,” Bailey said in a news release.