High School Wrestling

Whale Branch wrestling coach back at work after October arrest

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comDecember 5, 2013 

WBH

Whale Branch Early College High School wrestling coach Josh Duplessis said he has apologized to Beaufort County School District officials and hopes to move forward after his October arrest following an altercation at a downtown bar.

Duplessis is alleged to have hit another man in the head with a beer bottle at Plums Restaurant on Bay Street, according to a Beaufort Police Department spokesman. Duplessis was arrested and charged with third-degree assault and battery, refusing to pay a taxi fare and public drunkenness.

The 28-year-old Beaufort resident was placed on administrative leave from Oct. 30 to Nov. 19, school district spokesman Jim Foster said. Duplessis has fulfilled some district requirements to continue coaching, and other requirements are ongoing, according to Foster, who declined to elaborate.

"They just wanted to hear from me that I was sorry for what I did," Duplessis said. "It was just a big mistake. The district is gracious enough to give me a second chance. I'm taking it and learning from my mistake."

Duplessis, a first-year head coach and Chicago-area native, worked as an assistant on the Warriors wrestling team last season. He is a certified athletic trainer with the U.S. Marine Corps and treats recruits on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

He worked as the Warriors' football athletic trainer the past two seasons through a contract with Carolina Sportscare.

Duplessis said he wrestled in high school and for two years in college. He is the Warriors' fourth coach in as many years.

"He's done everything he's been asked by the district in order to be able to coach," Whale Branch athletics director Carlos Cave said. "I knew very little at the time, other than there was an incident. Everything else was handled through the district."

At about 2 a.m. on Oct. 27, police were called to the back of Plums, where a witness said Duplessis hit another man in the head with a beer bottle before leaving in a taxi, said Beaufort Police Deputy Chief Dale McDorman. An officer called the taxi company, and while Duplessis' taxi was stopped at Boundary Street and Bladen Street, he opened the door and ran, McDorman said.

An officer found Duplessis walking down Congress Street, arrested him and returned to Plums, where a witness and the alleged victim identified Duplessis. The victim, who was not identified in a police incident report, suffered visible, minor injury, according to the report.

Duplessis was released on his own recognizance the next day, according to online court records. Records indicate his case has been continued until May.

Christopher Geier, Duplessis' attorney, said he is seeking pre-trial intervention and expects the case to be dismissed within the next couple of months and the charges to eventually be expunged.

Duplessis has no other arrests in the state, according to a S.C. Law Enforcement Division criminal history report.

Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen

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