Hilton Head Teacher Charged with Sexually Abusing Student at School
An elementary school teacher in Beaufort County on Hilton Head Island has been arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor. 54-year-old Anthony Richard Heiter is a first-grade dual-language Spanish teacher at Hilton Head Island Elementary School. He has been teaching there since 2015.
According to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, these charges were brought in connection with an alleged sexual assault of a student inside of the elementary school.
The alleged victim’s parents reported the assault to the principal of Hilton Head Elementary on November 9. Heiter was immediately removed from teaching and placed on paid administrative leave, which will continue while the investigation is ongoing. He turned himself in on Thursday morning, January 17.
The Beaufort County School District also reported Heiter’s arrest to the South Carolina Department of Education, which can make the decision to suspend or revoke Heiter’s state educator’s certificates.
If convicted of this felony offense, Heiter could spend as much as 15 years in prison.
Justice for Child Sex Abuse Survivors and Their Families
Attorney contributor Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com is a former prosecutor who now represents survivors of sexual violence in civil cases. We’ve asked him to add some thoughts about the legal options available to school sex abuse survivors and their families:
Sexual predators are often close to their victims, including in positions of trust like teaching, coaching, medicine, and religious leadership. Because of this tragic reality, it’s critical that school administrators take extensive preventative measures to ensure their students are safe from the threat of sexual abuse. When a school employee sexually abuses a student, the perpetrator must be prosecuted and the circumstances surrounding the abuse must be investigated to determine if the school district was negligent in a way that allowed the abuse to occur.
In cases where negligence is determined to have played a role in enabling abuse, the victims of their families may have grounds for a lawsuit. For example, a school might be considered negligent for failing to report allegations of sexual misconduct to law enforcement or for failing to run a background check and hiring an employee with a history of sexual misconduct.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of child sexual abuse by a teacher or another school employee, you can find justice for the trauma you and your family have suffered. To learn more about your legal options, get in touch with one of our experienced sexual abuse survivors attorneys for a free consultation.