BONNEAU, S.C. (WCBD) – A former volunteer firefighter – who is a registered sex offender – worked for at least two fire departments in Berkeley County.
News 2 has learned that Michael Smart was able to work as a volunteer at the Bonneau Fire Department and Lake Moultrie Fire Department for the past few years, despite being required to register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to crimes in 2017.
Multiple sources say he also trained other firefighters.
Smart was charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor in May 2013. In a police report, the father of a 5- to 6-year-old girl stated his daughter spent the night at Smart’s house, where he made the girl perform sex acts, telling her she would not get any food or water until she complied.
Another sexual assault report was filed in 2015 by a different parent after they recognized Smart in the news. The report says Smart’s wife babysat the child who told her father that the man touched her inappropriately.
No charges were filed in that case.
Smart pleaded guilty to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in 2017. He was sentenced to 10 years, but that was reduced to five years’ probation. He was also required to register on the sex registry.
While News 2 spoke with officials at the Bonneau Fire Department, they did not want to appear on camera. They told us the department did complete a background check on Smart through the State Law Enforcement Division.
They said he came back as a “hire,” so they hired him but they would not tell us when he was hired.
SLED sent us a statement which reads: “SLED provided an accurate criminal background check articulating the SC criminal violations of the individual. The sex offender registry is a separate system and is available for anyone to search.”
News 2 also reached out to Berkeley County, but they did not have any comment on the case.
We’re told once the county learned – recently – about Smart being a registered sex offender, he was no longer allowed to work as a volunteer firefighter. The fire departments are not run by the county.
Smart was let go sometime in the past month.