South Carolina

SC sheriff charged for punching woman in face repeatedly, preventing aid, SLED says

Colleton County Sheriff Robert Anderson “R.A.” Strickland, Jr. was arrested after he punched a woman he lived with and prevented her from calling police or medical aid during an argument, according to state police.

Agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division charged the 40-year-old Strickland with second-degree domestic violence after the altercation with an unidentified “household member.” SLED arrested and charged Strickland Saturday.

Strickland punched the woman “in the face, with a closed fist more than once, which caused moderate bodily injury,” SLED agents said in an affidavit. Her arm was also injured when she tried to block the blows to her face, according to the affidavit.

The redacted police report does not identify the person Strickland allegedly assaulted but does reveal that the victim is a woman. The nature of Strickland’s relationship to the woman is also not revealed.

R.A. Strickland 10-30-1979.JPG
Colleton County Sheriff Robert Anderson “R.A.” Strickland, Jr. was charged with second-degree domestic violence. Colleton County Sheriff's Office

About 10 p.m. Thursday, Strickland and the household member argued and he assaulted her, according to a SLED agent’s affidavit.

Strickland took both of the victim’s phones and prevented her from reporting the incident or receiving emergency medical assistance, according to an incident report. She ran away, the report says, and Strickland damaged the vehicle in which she tried to flee.

A person corroborated the circumstances of the incident, according to the police report, but because of redaction, it’s unclear if that person is the victim or another witness.

The victim’s injuries were photographed by SLED agents and the injuries were “consistent with her recollection of events,” the report says.

Agents booked Strickland in the Colleton County Detention Center. A judge let him out on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond, meaning he did not have to pay bail, court records show. The judge ordered Strickland not have any contact with the victim or the victim’s family, according to the records.

The next scheduled court date for Strickland is Feb. 14, 2020, records show.

The sheriff’s office did not have any comment on Strickland’s arrest, but said it will release a statement. There was no word on when the statement would be released.

Information on a possible suspension, or if someone else is temporarily in charge at the sheriff’s office, was not available.

Second degree domestic violence is a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years in prison and fines. A person convicted of domestic violence is also barred from carrying firearms, which means a conviction effectively ends a person’s career in law enforcement. To be charged with domestic violence a person has to assault a spouse, former spouse, a person with a child in common or a person who lives or lived with the assaulter.

Strickland was running for his third term this year. The current sheriff drew some criticism in August.

The sheriff emailed his staff in August reminding them that South Carolina is an “at will” state for employment, according to WCIV.

“If a potential candidate contacts you, my advice to you would be not get involved,” Strickland told employees, according to WCIV. “Read between the lines and I ask that you remain loyal and support me as a leader as well as a Sheriff.”

South Carolina is consistently in the top 10 for the percentage of women killed by men and the state has a high rate of domestic violence.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.


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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.
Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State focused on breaking news, public safety and trending news. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.