Prosecutor: SC lawmaker took wife's phone, bit her nose

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina lawmaker remained jailed Wednesday on the state's most serious domestic violence charge as prosecutors disclosed new details of an alleged attack, saying he bit his wife's nose and took her cellphone so she couldn't call for help.

A lawyer for now-suspended Rep. Chris Corley said at a hearing that prosecutors were pushing the case far beyond what Corley's wife wanted in connection with the lawmaker's arrest at the couple's home Dec. 26.

According to authorities, Corley's wife said her husband attacked her when she confronted him with a text message that appeared to indicate he was cheating on her.

The lawmaker was originally charged with first-degree criminal domestic violence, but a grand jury indicted him on an upgraded charge of criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.

The charge is the most serious for domestic violence in South Carolina short of a murder charge and carries up to 20 years in prison. Corley remained in jail Wednesday evening and had not made a new, higher $50,000 bond set by a judge.

At Wednesday's hearing, state prosecutors disclosed new details of the allegations arising from the arrest at Corley's Aiken County home. Local prosecutors had asked the state to handle the case.

Assistant Attorney General Kinli Abee said Corley threw his wife on their bed and began hitting her in the head, once even biting her nose as their young children stood in the doorway. She also said Corley also took away his wife's cellphone to keep her from summoning help, but that she managed to call 911 on her Apple Watch.

Abee said the attack ended with Corley pointing a gun at his wife and then going to a bathroom, which allowed her to run with her children to her mother's house across the street.

"The victim, your honor, is afraid this behavior will continue to escalate and she does fear for her life," said Abee, who didn't detail any abuse that may have occurred before Dec. 26.

Corley's attorney did not dispute or even mention any of the facts of the case Wednesday. But he said Abee's characterization that Corley's wife feared he might come and attack her at any time was wrong.

The Attorney General's Office has "exacerbated the situation beyond what Mrs. Corley actually wanted, what she desired and what she wishes to have happened," lawyer John Delgado said.

Circuit Judge Doyet Early, who raised the bond to $50,000, kept several of the provisions of Corley's first $20,000 bond including not contacting his wife or children without permission and surrendering his guns and passport.

After his indictment, Corley was suspended from his House seat. Several lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, called for him to resign after a 911 tape was released with Corley's oldest child saying "just stop daddy."

Corley was re-elected to a second term in the House in November. He was best known in his first term for strongly arguing against removing the Confederate flag from in front of the Statehouse after nine black worshippers were killed in a racist shooting attack at a Charleston church in June 2015.


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