WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -Lexington Police are investigating a batch of racist posts, which appeared to be written by a Midlands nurse. Several WIS-TV viewers reached out to us about the posts in early June. Now, management with the assistant living facility where the nurse works is opening up about the investigation.
We spoke with Severine Pretas, the CEO of Priority Life Care, which is the parent company of Carolina Gardens. She says the company was notified about the posts earlier this month and immediately opened an investigation. The West Columbia facility recently had to step up security after receiving threats once screenshots of the posts began circulating online.
Per company policy, anytime there’s an allegation against a staff member, that person is suspended without pay and that’s exactly what happened in this case. There were two separate investigations started, one by Lexington Police and another by Carolina Gardens.
Pretas says the company has never dealt with allegations of this nature, involving online posts before. So, they decided to bring in some outside help in the form of an investigator who specializes in forensic digital intelligence.
“It is against our policy in any way, shape or form to have somebody who would have any type of racist feelings, or comments or direct posts to be a part of our company,” said Pretas, who added that the company “felt that it was really important for us to hire an outside, third party, who could investigate whether or not what the nurse was telling us was in fact truth, other than just us taking her word for it. We really needed somebody who could forensically dig into her electronics, as well as all of her social media profiles.”
The investigator hired by Carolina Gardens examined all of the nurse’s social media profiles, and determined that the nurse’s account had not been hacked, but cloned.
Carolina Gardens has since cleared the nurse in question of any wrongdoing, which is why we have chosen not to use her name in our reporting. Lexington Police also confirm that, at this time, there is no proof that the nurse had any involvement.
She’s also been cleared by the nursing board and can now return to work, but she hasn’t yet out of fear. We’re told the nurse has received multiple death and rape threats, as well as a lewd package that was sent to her home.
While it appears that the nurse in question was not behind the racist posts, the Lexington Police investigation continues as authorities work to determine who is actually behind the posts, possibly multiple people.
Pretas wants this situation to be a warning to other leaders, saying, “Actions have to be taken and there should be zero tolerance for it, but there are instances that people can be wrongly accused. The piece that’s open is us still trying to identify who did this. Who did this cloning of this person’s account, and who was trying to defame her name, as well as her reputation and her career?”
Lexington Police tell WIS-TV that there could be harassment, inciting violence or impersonation charges if someone is arrested and charged in this incident, but ultimately the exact charges will be up to the solicitor.