Candidate Faces Probe in Fondling Allegation

Report: Inappropriate Relationship with 16 Year Old

Mike Fanning

COLUMBIA – The state’s highest law enforcement agency has opened an investigation into allegations, based on an incident report filed last week with the Hampton County Sheriff’s Department, that Mike Fanning, of Mitford, and currently the Democratic nominee for S.C. Senate District 17, had an “inappropriate relationship” with a 16-year-old female student when he was her teacher at Estill High School beginning in 1993, a spokesperson for the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) confirmed Tuesday.

The offenses, as stated in the incident report, which was filed Sept. 29, were ‘fondling – forcible.’

According to the woman who filed the report and who is now 40 years old, the relationship with Fanning, who she said was her history teacher at the time, began in the spring of 1993, her junior year in high school, and progressed in intensity, lasting until the fall of 1994 during her first semester of college.

The woman told The Voice last week in a phone conversation that she did not have contact with Fanning again until they both showed up at a mutual friend’s birthday party about 10 years ago. She said he contacted her last fall via Facebook to say he was planning to run for political office and wanted to know if she was proud of him.

“After I thought about that for a while, it bothered me,” she said, “because I felt he was contacting me to find out if I was going to cause him any problems in his campaign.”

Other documents obtained by The Voice refer to separate allegations by two female students in May 1998, of inappropriate touching that allegedly took place in Fanning’s home and that resulted in Fanning being suspended with pay from his high school teaching position in Columbia.

Fanning was not charged as a result of the allegations, and other documents indicate that he passed a non-law enforcement administered polygraph examination in connection with the accusations. Documents from July 1998 further state that the Richland County Sheriff’s Department did not press charges due to ‘not sufficient evidence for criminal prosecution,’ and Fanning was subsequently reinstated to his teaching position.

Fanning is the Executive Director of the Olde English Consortium, a 501(c)3 non-profit that, according to its website is an “educational collaborative seeking to promote excellence in education through collaboration.”

In the Nov. 8 general election, Fanning will face Republican candidate Mark Palmer for the district that includes parts of Chester, Fairfield and York counties.

Fanning had not, at press time, responded to The Voice’s phone messages.

 

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