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Photo courtesy of Metro Creative Graphics

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division on Tuesday arrested a former Department of Social Services investigator who failed to investigate child abuse and neglect claims in Horry County and then falsified a report to show that she did, according to an affidavit. 

Amanda Sutherland, 29, is charged with misconduct in office, and is being at the J. Rueben Long Detention Center. Bail has not been set. 

Amanda Sutherland

Amanda Sutherland, 29. Courtesy,  J. Reuben Long Detention Center

One of those children in the case Sutherland was assigned to investigate was a 3-week-old infant who later died. Conway police arrested two adults at the residence on Sanctuary Boulevard in Conway in connection to the case. 

Heather Lee Hare, of Conway, is charged with homicide by child abuse and four charges of unlawful neglect of a child. Josh Gordon Hare, also of Conway, is charged with two counts of unlawful conduct toward a child and two counts of unlawful neglect of a child.

According to an affidavit, Sutherland was assigned on April 21 to investigate child abuse and neglect claims in Horry County, and had a legal obligation to do so within 24 hours. But she never did, authorities said. 

Two weeks later, on May 5, one of the children died, the affidavit said. According to arrest warrants, other children at the scene tested positive for heroin and marijuana.

On May 12, Sutherland “created a detailed falsification of the case dictation stating that she conducted a home visit with the mother and children of the alleged report on April 21, 2021, when in fact she had never met with the parents or children, been to the residence, nor began an investigation into the allegation or assessment of the welfare of the children,” the affidavit says. 

"As a result" of the child's May 5 death, Sutherland on May 12 used “facts and notes about the family from the electronic case file” to make the false report more believable, the affidavit said.

In a statement, DSS said it is cooperating with SLED and that Sutherland was terminated on June 4.

"DSS has reviewed all the matters assigned to this individual to determine whether there is reason to believe any falsification of records has occurred in other cases and no further concerns have been identified," spokeswoman Danielle Jones said in an email.

The case will be prosecuted by the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

Reach Christian by email or through Twitter and Facebook with the handle @ChrisHBoschult. 

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Christian is Texas native who welcomes any chance to do a story in the marsh or on the beach. He's a dog park regular and enjoys spending time in the kitchen. He says his margarita recipes are better than anything you'll find in a restaurant.

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