Commentary: Is charge against Foxworth justice or vendetta?

This editorial appeared in The Myrtle Beach Sun.

Fourteen months after charging Horry County Councilman Marion Foxworth with an entry-level prostitution charge, loitering for prostitution, the assistant prosecutor for the city of Myrtle Beach on Wednesday added a more serious charge: solicitation for prostitution. The prosecutor in question, Michael Smith, did not deign to tell the public why he held this charge in apparent reserve for so long.

If the city has enough evidence to prove that Foxworth actively solicited sex from a female city resident in October 2007, why did it not file a formal accusation to that effect right away? The 14-month lag makes this new charge look more like a vendetta than a search for justice.

Foxworth has maintained his innocence all along, refusing to plead guilty to the loitering charge and pay the nominal fine attached. The last time he took the "easy" way out, he says, he ended up with a criminal record he contends he does not deserve. (In 1990, he pleaded guilty to obtaining money under false pretenses, another misdemeanor. That charge stemmed from an alleged bribe to Ralph Wilson, then a candidate for county solicitor.)

Foxworth also contends that the city can't prove the original charge. Smith apparently believes otherwise, which should make Foxworth's Jan. 13 municipal-court jury trial on both charges really interesting. Considering that Foxworth will be defended by not one but two tough attorneys, Greg McCollum of Myrtle Beach and Morgan Martin of Conway, the jury is certain to learn of any weaknesses there may be in the city's case.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Myrtle Beach Sun.