BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC (WTOC) - The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office has charged a Hilton Head Island first grade teacher with criminal sexual misconduct in the third degree.
Anthony Heiter turned himself in to the sheriff’s office Thursday morning. He’s been on administrative leave since the allegations first surfaced in November. He’s been out of the classroom for more than two months.
According to the district, as of Thursday afternoon, he is still an employee and on administrative leave.
The South Carolina State Board of Education suspended his teaching license on Thursday. In the suspension report from the state BOE, it says that “it is alleged that Mr. Heiter exposed himself to a first grade student.”
A child’s parent at the school notified administration on Nov. 9 of an incident happening in October. Thursday morning, the principal sent out a letter to parents. Before Thursday, parents and students were not informed of why Heiter was absent from the classroom.
The school district would not release anymore details surrounding the ongoing investigation. Parents and the district alike say this is not an ideal situation.
“You know, knowing that this happened and this was someone watching over our kid, it was, it’s just shocking,” said parent, Fred Gonzalez.
“News like this amounts to a gut punch,” said Jim Foster, Beaufort County School District. “It’s something that has an emotional punch to it, but one thing we have to remember and we have to emphasize is that Mr. Heiter has not been convicted of anything.”
The parents who brought these allegations forward told law enforcement they first knew something was wrong when their daughter no longer wanted to go to school.
According to the parent letter, there will be a meeting for Hilton Head Island Elementary parents on Tuesday night.
“Parent meeting has been scheduled at the school next week so that parents can come in and ask questions, and we are bringing in some of our outside partners,” Foster said. “Hopeful Horizons is going to come in and help, and they are used to dealing with these types of situations.”
“A couple days to a week, and a week turned into another couple weeks, and then a month, thinking that maybe something happened to him or his family members, maybe it was a family emergency.”
“The reasons for his absence, those details we didn’t go into, we couldn’t, because this was an ongoing law enforcement investigation and we couldn’t discuss it.”
If convicted, Heiter could face up to 15 years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender.
According to the school district, Heiter was hired in July 2015. He has 12 years of educator experience.