News 12 First at Five / Thursday, July 25, 2013
AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- He's known around the CSRA for an unusual interest in feet, and after a woman pressed charges against him for something that happened in a Wal-Mart, Joey Leaphart decided to share his side of the story.
Leaphart sat down with News 12's Laura Warren to talk pretty candidly about what he calls a foot addiction.
"I'll approach a woman and ask her if I could kiss your feet for good luck or something. Or I'll ask her if I could give her $20 if I have the money. And then she says yes or no. If she says no, I go on."
But it's a habit that's landed him in trouble more than a few times. He's been accused of harassing women in stores around the area.
Just last week he picked up an assault charge in Wal-Mart after a woman said he touched her leg, then put gum under her foot in the checkout line. She says he offered to take it off. He also landed himself on the sex offender registry after licking an 11-year-old girl's toes back in 2000, something he says was just a misunderstanding.
Leaphart told us the story. According to him, "Down here at Langley Pond, a lady with her daughter was there. I was rubbing lotion on the lady's feet and her legs. The daughter was like, do mine. And I was like 'no.' And the mom said go ahead kiss her foot and she'll shut up."
But a jury didn't see it that way, and he served five years in prison.
Capt. Eric Abdullah has seen a lot of things in law enforcement, but nothing quite like this.
"Yeah it is unusual. I've never seen anything like that before," he said.
So with more reports of Leaphart's unusual requests, when does law enforcement step in and say enough is enough?
"We don't want to see anyone getting violated. We're here to enforce the law and we're here to assist," Abdullah said.
Abdullah says the Sheriff's Office is aware of Leaphart's history, but he says these incidents need to be reported for them to do anything about it. He also says not to encourage this kind of behavior.
"I have women come up to me and say, 'You're the foot guy. You wanna kiss my feet?'" Leaphart said.
But Leaphart says he doesn't want women to fear him or think he is a child molester. He says he is harmless; he just likes feet, and he likes asking women if he can kiss theirs.
"In my opinion, I don't see anything wrong with asking," he said.
He showed us his "foot book" and pictures of some of his favorite feet. We told him the average person might find the book a little weird, and he said, "I like feet, but I know I shouldn't be going out in public and bothering women and asking."
He says a lot of women know him as the "foot guy" now and will offer to let him touch their feet for money.
"I had somebody approach me the other day tell me I could lick their flip-flop if I give them $20, and I said no, I want to suck your toes or kiss your foot, I don't want your flip-flop," he said.
But he says it's just hard to stop asking, like breaking an addiction.
"I want to stop, but not completely stop, because that's what I like. I mean, that's all I have is feet," he said.
We asked him if he had ever gotten any help with dealing with his addiction. He said he was court ordered to see a mental health professional, and he isn't opposed to getting help again.
We have the full interview posted here: