SC Rep arrested for domestic violence voted to pass stricter penalties against DV offenders

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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. – The arrest of South Carolina lawmaker Chris Corley sent shock waves through the state house.

On Tuesday, Corley was released from jail after posting a $20,000 dollar bail.

However, the judge’s decision to release him, despite the felony allegations being against him, is not sitting well with advocates of Domestic Violence reform in South Carolina.

The Palmetto State consistently ranks in the top 5 states, for violence against women.

A problem Corley himself voted to tackle.

Corley’s career has gone from the statehouse straight to the jailhouse, but claims that he beat his wife and pointed a gun at her aren’t a shock to some people.

“It really is not that big of a surprise,” Executive Director of the Cumbee Center, Susan Seldon said. “Especially with somebody that’s been kind of known for a temper.”

The Cumbee Center is a safe haven for victims of domestic violence in Aiken County.

Sheldon says in her experience the violence that reportedly erupted at Corley’s home on Monday is an indication this was not a first-time occurrence.

“An incident like this, that’s violent, doesn’t start at that level. Usually, it starts with verbal abuse or emotional abuse.” Sheldon told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

In 2015, in an effort to combat the growing number of deadly domestic violence cases in South Carolina, state lawmakers passed the Domestic Violence Reform Act.

The legislation created different degrees of offenses that determined the length of jail time for offenders and banned abusers from owning guns.

A law State Representative William “Bill” Clyburn says Republicans, including Corley, and Democrats both agree would better protect victims and punish batters.

“He was an advocate, supporter of anti-domestic violence,” Clyburn told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

Corley is now facing felony charges because of the very changes he voted for.

Sheldon says Corley should be used as an example that South Carolina cannot allow this kind of behavior from anyone.

“I would love to see the toughest penalties allowed in this case,” she said. “I would love to see him removed if he is proved to be guilty.”
Still, disappointment and sorrow were some of the reactions that many of Corley’s colleagues shared with WJBF NewsChannel 6.

Senator Tom Young, Jr. saying “this situation with Rep. Chris Corley is terrible for his family and him. We are praying for his family and him.”

“We hope that he will learn from this, and will make his life better,” said Clyburn.

First-degree domestic violence convictions could put offenders behind bars for a minimum of 10 years.

Pointing and presenting a gun has a minimum sentence of 5 years in prison.

For both felonies, Corley could face up to 15 years in prison.

WJBF NewsChannel 6 reached out to the state representative for comment but were told he will not be making any comments at this time.

His next court appearance is in February.