Criminal complaint filed over LGBTQ books at SC library

Travelers Rest Library was accused of distributing obscene materials.  Police said the allegation was unfounded.

Travelers Rest Library was accused of distributing obscene materials. Police said the allegation was unfounded.

A Travelers Rest man filed a report with the Travelers Rest Police Department, saying the local Greenville County library branch was committing a crime for distributing sexually explicit content.

Albert Hill, in his late 30s, wrote an email to police earlier this week saying books listed on the LGBTQ and Banned Books list had “graphic cartoon illustrations and exploitations for gay sex, hand jobs, anal, oral, and how to use sex apps ,” according to the incident report.

“The complaint stated that at his last visit he noticed a display with banned books and LGBTQ material. He also provided photos of obscene and pornographic material,” the incident report said.

It is the second time this month LGBTQ books in the Greenville County public library system have been questioned. The Greenville County GOP has asked the library to remove LGBTQ children’s books from children’s sections.

The books Hill was concerned about were labeled adult fiction.

Travelers Rest Officer Matt Sewell investigated Hill’s complaint and talked with the branch manager as well as the director and assistant director of the Greenville County LIbrary. They gave him all the books in the library pertaining to the subject.

“I briefly skimmed the books looking for anything illegal that was insinuated by the complainant,” Sewell wrote in his report.

His judgment? “At this time all allegations were unfounded.”

Reached by phone Thursday, Hill declined to comment.

The incident report says Sewell told Hill, “There was nothing of any evidence value to support his allegation.”

Hill told the officer he was concerned the library was giving library cards to teenagers with instructions on how to obtain banned books online.

“Mr. Hill did not seem to like my response to his complaint. Sewell wrote. “I informed him again on how his email insinuated that a crime was being committed within the city of Travelers Rest within the building of the library. Mr. Hill apologized and stated that he meant to state how access could be gained to view the book online, and there were instructions placed out in plain view so any child could gain access.”

Earlier this month, Jeff Davis, chair of the Greenville County GOP, said the party is not asking to ban the books, but to keep them out of reach of children, who could be “indoctrinated” by their contents.

Parents should make the choice about whether a child should read a book with those themes.

Susan Ward, president of Greenville’s chapter of PFLAG, which brings together parents, families and friends of LGBTQ people, said the idea a child can be influenced into being LGBTQ is misguided.

“That’s just wrong,” she said.

Her organization as well as Upstate Pride SC intends to fight any attempt to restrict books.

A contentious Library Board meeting took place Monday in which library board chair Allen Hill, no relation to Albert Hill, said, “A library is not here to promote LGBTQ things, and it’s not here to be against LGBTQ things,” Hill said. The best that everybody in this room can hope for is for it to be neutral.”

Others said library staff felt threatened when Allen Hill went to the library after complaints were made about LGBTQ books.

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