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County to ban e-mail nudity

March 26, 2002 

Beaufort County Administrator John Kachmar apologized to Beaufort County Council on Monday for the questionable e-mails that had been circulating among county managers.

"I'd like to apologize personally that this issue has arisen," Kachmar told the 11 councilmen at the Hilton Head Island Library.

Kachmar also informed council that 14th District Solicitor Randolph Murdaugh III had decided not to press criminal charges against any of the employees who exchanged the e-mails.

The county e-mail incident flared up a fortnight ago when Burton resident Tommy O'Brien revealed evidence that Deputy County Administrator Buz Boehm received and forwarded an e-mail attachment with nudity.

It also was alleged that Boehm and other county managers had received and passed on another e-mail containing nudity that originated in the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

Council Chairman Tom Taylor instructed Kachmar to conduct an internal investigation of the incident, but he also asked that the evidence be forwarded to Murdaugh in case the state criminal code had been violated.

Kachmar read from a letter that Murdaugh sent him last Thursday.

"While these communications may be in poor taste," the letter said, they "do not arise to the level of a criminal offense. I therefore decline prosecution of this matter."

The employees under his authority who exchanged the e-mails have been disciplined, Kachmar said. And he is going to start a training program that reinforces the county's policy that e-mail correspondence may not contain nudity.

But, the administrator said, he could not guarantee that "no one is going to send an improper e-mail in the future."

Councilman Bill Ladson suggested that Kachmar take a "zero-tolerance policy with anyone who violates the county's Internet policy.

"If individuals (violate the policy) they will be disciplined," Kachmar said.

By ROB GIOIELLI. Copyright © 2002 The Beaufort Gazette

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