Former Charleston police transport officer accused of fondling woman granted $25,000 bail

Former Charleston police transport officer Kermit A. Jenkins, 43, of East Estates Boulevard in Charleston, is charged with second-degree sexual misconduct.

A Charleston police transport officer reportedly chuckled and told a handcuffed woman she was too sexy to go to jail after he slipped his hand up her mini skirt and fondled her, an arrest affidavit for the man revealed.

An investigation spanning two weeks resulted in a second-degree sexual misconduct charge against that officer, Kermit A. Jenkins, 43, of East Estates Boulevard in Charleston.

He appeared Wednesday via videoconferencing at Charleston County bond court. His bail was set at $25,000.

Jenkins spoke only through his attorney, Kelvin Huger. His wife and mother stood before the magistrate on his behalf, though they did not address the court.

Both women declined to comment on the situation shortly after the hearing concluded.

The 32-year-old Summerville woman Jenkins is accused of assaulting did not attend the hearing.

Jenkins crossed paths with the woman on May 4 after she was arrested by Charleston police on a disorderly conduct charge.

The arresting officer reported being jabbed by the woman's lit cigarette as he attempted to escort her away from a disturbance outside Trio night club on Calhoun Street that night. She yelled "why the (expletive) are you pushing me," at the officer and resisted being placed under arrest, an incident report said.

According to an arrest affidavit for Jenkins, the woman was handcuffed and in the front seat of a transport van when her red mini skirt began to ride up her thighs. Jenkins reached over to readjust the woman's skirt, the affidavit said, and in the process rubbed his fingers against her underwear, touching her genitals.

Startled by his touch, the woman yelled "what the hell," prompting Jenkins to chuckle, the affidavit said.

Jenkins touched the woman again, rubbing her left leg and upper thigh, after he stopped for another pick up, according to detectives.

He then told the woman, "you're too sexy to be going to jail," the affidavit said.

The woman filed a complaint with the Charleston Police Department's professional standards office May 6. Jenkins was immediately placed on administrative duties with pay.

When questioned by investigators on May 8, Jenkins denied having touched the woman or her skirt at any time. He was questioned further four days later and eventually provided a written statement admitting that his hand might have touched her. He told investigators he did not remember how exactly he pulled down her skirt.

Jenkins' pay was terminated May 14, and he was fired after his arrest, police said.

Charleston police began using the transport vans in 2008 as way to free street officers from being sidelined for long stretches of time while waiting to book the newly arrested into detention centers. North Charleston started a similar jail shuttle around the same time.

Jenkins, who was not a sworn police officer, was hired as a transport officer on Dec. 17, 2012, police spokesman Charles Francis said. There were no previous complaints about his actions on the job, he said.

During Wednesday's bond hearing, Jenkins' attorney described him as an Army veteran and a long-standing member of the community.

The allegations against Jenkins are "totally inconsistent with his character," Huger said.

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