After launching a controversial investigation involving dozens of people for marijuana use in the Phelps bong incident, South Carolina’s Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said he couldn’t ignore the photo but defended has suddenly announced that he would not charge Phelps, though he did charge others.
Lott released a statement that “Michael Phelps is truly an American hero … but even with his star status, he is still obligated to obey the laws of our state,” Lott said.
I am not sure how launching a ridiculous investigation into everyone associated with the party at University of South Carolina proved anything other than a desire to pursue a sports celebrity. Since the investigation showed such violations, it is unclear what the purpose of the investigation was. What is most disturbing are the other people who have been arrested in the Phelps case and other cases by Sheriff Lott.
While Lott has suggested that there is a lack of evidence, it seems like more of a convenient excuse. Phelps is on the television admitting to drug use at the party and there are witnesses. Lott insists: “We had a photo, and we had him saying he was sorry for his inappropriate behavior. That behavior could have been going to a party. … He never said, ‘I smoked marijuana.’ He never confessed to that. We didn’t have physical evidence. We didn’t have enough where we could go arrest him.” Really? The question of the meaning of those statements can be resolved at trial and Phelps would never have denied the meaning after insisting that he had come clean with his fans and sponsors. Likewise, it is clear that some of these people would likely cooperate in such a charge.
None of this is meant to say that Phelps should have been charged. None of these people should have been charged. It simply seems that Sheriff Lott jumped at the chance to investigate a celebrity and then found himself being portrayed around the world as some type of unhinged hick.
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