The woman accusing Gaston County Commissioner Don Grant of assault says that he lifted up her shirt and then reached inside the waistband of her pants and touched her inappropriately for the purpose of sexual arousal, according to arrest warrants.
Grant, 57, turned himself in at the Gaston County Magistrate's Office just before 9 p.m. Sunday and was released about 20 minutes later on a promise to appear in court. He faces charges of sexual battery and assault on a female.
Grant, a Republican elected to represent the Gastonia Township on the county board in 2016, has denied all the charges. His attorney, Travis Page, said Grant plans to conduct business as usual on the Board of County Commissioners.
"He's a committed public servant to the citizens of Gaston County and he's not going to allow what we see as a defamatory public statement to keep him from serving the people," Page said.
Grant has received support from the community, including some who have come forward to volunteer as character witnesses, Page said.
"We're prepared to defend his name and reputation and that's a name and reputation we see as exemplary," Page said.
Grant said Friday he went to the woman's house to check for bed bugs after she came to his business, Grant Exterminating Co., on June 13. Grant said he found no evidence of bed bugs inside the woman's home. Grant said the woman complained of bed bug bites so he checked her arms and back for marks from the insect, but did not find any.
"There was nothing sexual about it," Grant said.
The State Bureau of Investigation looked into the complaint rather than local police to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, a common practice when someone accuses an elected official of wrongdoing.
Grant also asked that the public withhold judgment until all the facts of the case are presented.
"When all of this is said and done, I think you will find that I'll be vindicated and it will be well known that these charges are not true," Grant said Friday. "I ask people not to make a decision until they hear all the facts."
Grant said while he was at the house the woman's children were present and they never went behind closed doors inside the house.
Grant has been in business for 43 years. He also said his wife was present when his accuser first came into the office to seek help for bed bugs.
Efforts to reach the woman who made the allegations against Grant have been unsuccessful.
Chad Brown, chairman of the Gaston County Board of Commissioners, said he does not expect the matter to be brought up by commissioners during a public meeting. He said the board will allow the legal case to make its way through the court system before addressing the issue.
You can reach Kevin Ellis at 704-869-1823 or Twitter.com/TheGazetteKevin.