COLUMBIA -- State Rep. Thad Viers was charged Friday with harassing his ex-girlfriend after she told investigators he continued to call, text and email for more than five months after they broke up, according to a Myrtle Beach police report.
Viers’ arrest came nearly four years after he pleaded guilty to threatening to beat and sexually assault a man dating his estranged wife.
The Myrtle Beach Republican announced in a news release about an hour after his arrest that he was ending his bid for a congressional seat and wouldn’t run for his state House seat either in 2012.
The ex-girlfriend said she repeatedly asked him to stop contacting her after she broke off their relationship in June or July, but was reluctant to press charges because she didn’t want to hurt Viers’ political career, police said.
The woman wrote several letters to Viers asking him to stop, including one sent by her attorney. The woman’s father also sent his own letter after Viers sent him tickets to a sporting event, investigators said.
The woman finally went to police with a three-ring binder with details of the calls, emails and texts, and on Dec. 16, a detective asked Viers to stop calling the woman, according to a police report.
But the woman told police that Viers contacted her twice more, once by email on Dec. 22 and again through a New Year’s Eve text sent from someone else’s cell phone, police said.
The 33-year-old Viers was awaiting a bond hearing Friday afternoon. Police didn’t know if he had an attorney.
Viers has served five terms in the South Carolina House and was running for the U.S. House in the newly-created 7th Congressional District. But a news release from his campaign sent after his Friday arrest said he was dropping out of the race “due to personal reasons” and wouldn’t run for his state House seat or any other elected office in 2012.
“While I had hoped to join South Carolina’s conservative congressional delegation in fighting back against Washington’s out-of-control spending spree, now is not the time. Instead, I will focus on building my law practice and advocating free market principles here in Horry County,” the statement from Viers read.
In June 2007, Viers pleaded guilty to unlawful communication and was fined $500 for threats made to a man who was dating a woman who was his estranged wife at that time.
Viers attorney, fellow state Rep. Todd Rutherford, said after his plea that the charge was an attempt to get back at Viers, who acted “under the influence of love.”
But the man who was threatened said he felt so scared he slept with a shotgun.
Viers seemed to weather the bad publicity from the case and was seen as a rising star in South Carolina Republican politics.
At a Charleston gathering sponsored by conservative blog RedState last August, Gov. Nikki Haley recognized Viers in the crowd and noted his run for Congress. She said he was “a good conservative, a strong fighter, somebody you should definitely pay attention to. We’ve got one of the best federal delegations in the country. Thad would make a great addition to that.”
Viers is a graduate of the University of South Carolina law school and first was elected to the South Carolina House in 2002.