|Robert James Priester|
By Vanessa Nguyen
JASPER (WTOC) - A retired South Carolina Highway Patrol sergeant faces charges of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor.
According to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division's arrest warrant, Robert James Priester used his status as a "well-known family friend" to get close to the underage victim.
The report indicates that he allowed the young girl to drive his car and sexually assaulted her against her will.
Priester is a 26-year veteran of the South Carolina Highway Patrol and retired in 2008.
He then went to work at the Jasper County Courthouse as an Administrative Tax Consultant.
County Auditor Hazel Holmes says she hired him because of his law enforcement background.
"I was very grateful and thankful to have Robert work for me and still is working at this time," said Holmes.
Holmes said she is still trying to wrap her mind around what's happened.
She has not terminated Priester yet and she stands by his character.
"I believe in the employee that I had working for me, he's a caring person, he's concerned about people, he's willing to help people at any given point," said Holmes.
She's known Priester for more than four years and says it's important to remember that not everything may be what it seems.
"At any given day, it could be any one of us that's accused incorrectly or mistaken for someone else or anything, anything can happen," said Holmes.
WTOC contacted the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, but they refused to comment on the investigation.