RIDGELAND, S.C. (WTOC) - A sign posted in front of the gates at the Ridgeland Correctional Institute has a mission statement for the South Carolina Department of Corrections on it. It says: “Safety--we will protect the public, our employees, and our inmates. Service--we will provide rehabilitation and self-improvement opportunities for inmates. Stewardship--we will promote professional excellence, fiscal responsibility, and self-sufficiency.”
On May 2, however, official documents suggest that mission statement was far from the reality one female employee experienced.
56-year-old Johnny Lee Bryant Jr. of Hilton Head was arrested May 13 for an incident that happened on that day at the prison, where he was a Lieutenant, Correctional Officer Supervisor, and a Class II Police Officer according to affidavits and his arrest warrant.
According to those signed affidavits by witnesses from May 13, Bryant reportedly blocked a female victim from leaving a briefing room where there had been a meeting. The affidavits also say that Bryant then kissed her against her will, restrained the woman, forcing her against a desk, and “forcibly” attempted to sexually assault her while making obscene comments.
Documents say the victim, who also worked at the Ridgeland Correctional Institute at that time was able to fight off Bryant and escape.
Bryant has been charged with kidnapping, assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct – second degree, and misconduct in office. He was booked in the Jasper County Detention Center. Charges were filed in court on May 14.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections says Bryant has been fired.
This isn’t the first incident at Ridgeland Correctional Institute in recent history.
On November 14, 2019, an inmate was found dead, a victim of a homicide. Another inmate death was also investigated as a homicide in October of 2019. In 2018, two guards were charged for attempting to provide drugs and other contraband to inmates. That same year, an inmate was stabbed by a homemade knife in a fight.