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Rev. Hooper appointment revisited after indictment of sexual assualt
posted March 12, 2009
EDGEFIELD – Rev. J. R. Hooper addressed
the Edgefield County Council last week in their March meeting asking
why “wealthy folk” do not have their “taxes sold” (property sold for
delinquent taxes) but “po folks do”. After a long rambling diatribe
with baseless accusations of “favoritism” for the wealthy, Councilman
Norman Dorn nominated Rev. Hooper to serve another term on the Tax
Appeals Board and the vote to approve the appointment was unanimous.
Now it seems the county council may be voting to undo the appointment
after learning Hooper has been indicted in a sexual assault case.
“We will correct it (the appointment),” County Council Chairman Monroe
Kneece said Wednesday evening. Chairman Kneece said he was not aware of
charges against Mr. Hooper, “it’s not a position we run a
background check for”. Kneece said he would check into the proper
procedure to undo the vote. County Council appointees serve at the
pleasure of the council and can be removed at anytime without cause by
a simple majority vote. It is unknown at this time if the vote could be
held at the March 17 Budget Work Session.
Rev. Hooper was arrested on April 11, 2007 by the Edgefield Police
Department after a Section 8 tenet in one of his properties leveled
accusations Hooper entered her bedroom while she was in bed, shut the
door, pulled the covers back exposing her partially nude body, and
sexually assaulted her. The woman’s statements to police indicated she
asked Mr. Hooper if he was going to rape her before the attack. Her
young daughter was home at the time.
The woman also told police that when she previously resisted Hooper’s
sexual advances he would raise her rent $25 each time.
The woman stated she did not call police at the time of the attack
because Mr. Hooper claimed he had “connections in this town” because he
was a “bondsman and a preacher, and a landowner”. However, after
speaking to family members they encouraged her to contact police.
After the investigation into the complaint was finished a warrant for
Hopper’s arrest was issued. The matter was turned over to the Edgefield
County Grand Jury on April 17 and a true
bill indictment was issued on
June 20, 2007. Hooper’s case could be heard in General Sessions
scheduled to commence on May 25 of this year.
This is not the first accusation against Rev. Hooper for sexual
assault. He was arrested on September 18, 2002 on a similar charge and
was also indicted. That charge was dropped after a preliminary hearing
on February 27, 2003.
County Council vice-chairman Willie Bright said he was aware of the
arrest at the time of the vote. “Yeah, I knew about it,” Bright said
laughing, “but I didn’t appoint him, Mr. Dorn did,” adding, “is there
any law against that (appointing Hooper)?” Mr. Bright said he just did
not give any thought to the arrest because he and Rev. Hooper “went to
school together” and that he did not know of the outcome of the pending
Bright said Councilman Dorn was well aware of the pending charge at the
time he reappointed Rev. Hooper to the board.
County Councilwoman Genia Blackwell said she was unaware of the
allegations against Rev. Hooper at the time of the vote, but would be
casting a vote to remove him from the Tax Appeals Board. “I hope the
allegations against him are not true, but who we appoint to positions
of honor to serve the county is a reflection of us (the county council)
and we have to maintain the utmost integrity of those appointed.”
Blackwell said the same standards that apply to employees of the county
should apply to those appointed to serve on county boards. “The county
wouldn’t hire Mr. Hooper with the pending indictment for a county
position so I cannot justify supporting him serving in any capacity
that reflects on the integrity of the county council.”
County Councilman Rodney Ashcraft offered his take on the situation
when contacted. "The allegations that are leveled against Mr. Hooper
are definitely serious. There is no question that had I known of this,
the council would have been encouraged against the appointment. I don't
want any of our positions held by anyone with allegations such as this.
I am surprised that we were even able to entertain his appointment and
will be relieved to correct this unfortunate oversight as soon as
possible. I am interested in what other positions he already holds that
might be in jeopardy because of his actions."
The revelation of the indictment was presented to the County Council by
EdgefieldDaily.com shortly after the re-appointment nomination of Rev.
Hooper by County Councilman Norman Dorn.
County Councilman Dorn was not
contacted for comment of his appointment of a indicted sexual assault
suspect as an appointee to the Tax Appeals Board as he refuses to
return calls for comment by EdgefieldDaily.com.
A recording of Rev. Hooper's comments were posted on YouTube by a
reader and can be found here: Part 1 and
2. EdgefieldDaily.com is not responsible for the editorial comments
made by the producer of the recording in the YouTube presentation.
© Copyright 2009
original material is property of
EdgefieldDaily.com and cannot be reproduced, rewritten or redistributed
without the expressed written permission of Edgefield Daily.com
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