BONNEAU, SC (WCBD) – A retired volunteer firefighter – a registered sex offender – worked for a Berkeley County fire department.
WCBD, a subsidiary of News13, has learned that Michael Smart has been able to volunteer with the Bonneau Fire Department for the past few years despite being forced to register as a sex offender after being found guilty in 2017.
Multiple sources say he trained other firefighters as well.
Smart was charged with criminal sexual behavior with a minor in May 2013. In a police report, the father of a 5- to 6-year-old girl said his daughter had spent the night at Smart’s house where he had the girl engage in sexual acts and told her that she would not be given any food or water until she stuck to it.
Another sexual assault report was filed by another parent in 2015 after they spotted Smart on the news. The report says that Smart’s wife was babysitting the child who told her father that the man touched her inappropriately.
No charges were brought in this case.
Smart pleaded guilty in 2017 to having committed an attack and a battery of high and aggravated nature. He was sentenced to 10 years but that was reduced to five years probation. He also had to register in the sex register.
While WCBD was speaking to officers from the Bonneau Fire Department, they refused to appear on camera. They told us the department had a background check of Smart by the State Law Enforcement Division.
They said he came back as an “employee” so they hired him, but they didn’t tell us when he was hired.
SLED sent us a statement that read, “SLED provided a close scrutiny of the criminal background articulating the individual’s SC crimes. The Sex Offender Register is a separate system and can be searched by anyone. “
WCBD also reached out to Berkeley County, but they had no comment on the case.
After the county recently learned that Smart is a registered sex offender, he was no longer allowed to work as a volunteer firefighter. The fire departments are not operated by the county.
Smart was released sometime in the last month.