James Brown Accuser's Conflicting Statements Preclude Charges

Utility worker who claimed the Godfather of Soul swung a knife at him refused to talk to investigators after hiring lawyer.

The Augusta Chronicle

The utility worker who accused soul singer James Brown of assault and kidnapping last month refused to talk to investigators after hiring an attorney, according to a case file.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. worker Russell Eubanks went out of his way to report allegations that the Godfather of Soul had swung a knife at him at the singer's Beech Island home July 3. He prepared a three-page account of his conversation with Brown.

But when Aiken County sheriff's investigators had follow-up questions, the utility worker hired attorney Gregory Harlow and refused to talk, according to a case file received by the Augusta Chronicle through a Freedom of Information Act request.

That was one reason authorities decided not to pursue charges. The other reason: conflicting statements by Eubanks.

According to a report by Investigator Gary Eastlake, SCE&G supervisors Wayne Harris and Altee Hicks talked to Eubanks after the worker's visit to the Brown estate for a no-lights complaint. The worker told his superiors that Brown never left his front porch during the confrontation.

But in his statement, Eubanks describes Brown chasing him down the driveway with a knife.

"When I got in my truck, I called my supervisor ... to report the incident. Mr. Brown was in the driveway with his knife, still shouting obscenities and racial slurs at me," Eubanks wrote.

The case file provides insight into the investigation:

  • Brown told investigators that the utility worker never identified himself as an SCE&G employee and wasn't wearing identifiable clothing, only a tool belt.

  • The singer said he saw a man looking into his bedroom window and never heard a doorbell. Brown went to the door and told the man he was under citizen's arrest for trespassing and not to leave until officers arrived. Brown said he never called the police because the man left.

    — Greg Rickabaugh