Former Jasper County Council chairman charged with assaulting student at school

tbarton@beaufortgazette.comMay 29, 2013 

Former Jasper County Council Chairman Samuel Gregory was arrested last week for allegedly assaulting a student at Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle School.

Gregory, 59, was charged Friday with third-degree assault and battery. He was released on a $1,092 personal recognizance bond and is not allowed to have contact with the child or the child's family, according to online court records.

Gregory is an aide for the Jasper County School District's in-school suspension program, assisting teachers and administrators with student discipline. According to a district spokeswoman, he's worked with the district for more than 20 years in that capacity.

A report from the Hardeeville Police Department said an officer was called to the middle school at about 11 a.m. April 24 because of an altercation between an adult and a student.

The report lists Gregory as a suspect and says a warrant was issued for his arrest. The names of a complainant and victim were redacted.

According to an arrest warrant, Gregory was captured on video wrestling with a student in the hall. The report said Gregory forced the student into another hall and "became aggressive" when the student did not obey.

A teacher who witnessed the incident provided a statement that said Gregory held the child and punched the juvenile in the stomach. That incident was not captured on video, according to the warrant.

The Hardeeville Police Department declined to provide a copy of the video, stating the footage had to be requested from the Jasper County School District.

The district did not immediately respond Wednesday to a public-records request for the footage.

Officer Arnold Middleton said in the arrest warrant that Gregory grabbed the student "unlawfully and without justification."

It was not clear Wednesday what prompted the alleged altercation.

"After learning of the allegations, the district placed Mr. Gregory on paid administrative leave and is in the process of conducting a thorough investigation," district public information officer Shellie Murdaugh wrote in an email. "We are working to conclude the investigation as expeditiously as possible. In light of the confidentiality rights of employees, the district is not at liberty to offer further comment on this matter at this time."

The district said it could not release Gregory's salary because he made less than the state's $50,000-or-more requirement for public release.

State law says government bodies must disclose exact compensation for employees earning $50,000 or more annually and divulge a compensation level within a range of $4,000 for anyone earning $30,001 to $49,999. A salary range must be provided for those earning $30,000 or less annually, under the law.

Attempts last week and Wednesday to reach Gregory were unsuccessful.

Gregory was defeated by Tom Johnson in last June's Democratic primary runoff for an at-large seat on the Jasper County Council.

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