Beaufort News

Complaint against deputy involves principal, accusations of misuse of Hilton Head Island High School

An internal investigation into misconduct claims against a Beaufort County sheriff’s deputy include allegations that the deputy met on multiple occasions late at night with a principal inside Hilton Head Island High School, according to unredacted documents made available this week.

Chris O’Nan of Hilton Head made the allegations as part of a complaint he filed with the Sheriff’s Office against Staff Sgt. DeJuan Holmes on April 27. O’Nan, husband of Hilton Head High principal Amanda O’Nan, accused Holmes of having an adulterous relationship with Amanda O’Nan and, among his claims, alleged that the couple used a public school facility and Holmes’ police vehicle to facilitate the relationship.

Holmes resigned when confronted with the allegations April 29 and declined to be interviewed by Sheriff’s Office investigators, according to the report authored by Special Investigator Lt. Brian Baird and dated May 4. Amanda O’Nan’s attorney filed a motion May 27 trying to block public release of the report, under the pseudonym John Doe, and an initial court ruling ordered the report be made public but with heavy redactions that hid the identity of both Amanda O’Nan and Hilton Head High School.

The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette fought that ruling, and Beaufort County Special Circuit Court Judge Marvin Dukes reversed his initial ruling Tuesday, removing the redactions. Kimberly Smith, an attorney representing Amanda O’Nan in the case, did not return calls for this story but argued in court that the report contains “baseless” allegations and, in a letter dated June 3 to the newspapers’ attorney, Carl Muller, wrote that the claims “remain unfounded and are based on slanderous and malicious acts and accusations of a scorned husband.”

The newspapers do not normally write about family court cases, but this case is unusual in that allegations are being made against two public employees in unique positions of community trust. The allegations include claims that both abused their positions of trust and used public equipment and facilities while doing so.

In the report, Chris O’Nan told sheriff’s investigators that his wife would receive a text message in the middle of the night and get up and leave, claiming a problem at the school. Amanda O’Nan “was seen meeting (Holmes) at the school and taking him into her office after midnight, where they would stay for over an hour at a time,” according to allegations in the report.

The report quotes Chris O’Nan as saying he discussed his wife’s relationship with Holmes as far back as October 2015 and that she told him he was a deputy assisting her with issues at the school. Holmes began working as an investigator for the Sheriff’s Office in 2002. He most recently had been handling drug, gang and other vice-type cases, but never served as a school resource officer, according to the Sheriff’s Office. In a 2007 Island Packet article about an award he received, Holmes is described as a former captain of the Hilton Head High School football team. Attempts to reach Holmes have been unsuccessful.

A second complaint was filed against Holmes by Karen Anderson, described in the investigative documents as a long-time friend of Chris O’Nan’s. Anderson claims Holmes ran a license plate check on her without cause. She told investigators Chris O’Nan once asked her to go to Holmes’ house to look for Amanda O’Nan’s car and as she neared the house, Holmes drove up and briefly followed her. Anderson says she was later told by teachers at the school that Amanda O’Nan told them she was in Holmes’ work vehicle at the time and listened to him run a check on her license plate over the police radio.

The sheriff’s office did not investigate the claims because Holmes’ resignation ended the inquiry.

Sheriff P.J. Tanner said that is typical when a deputy is accused of policy infractions that do not rise to the level of criminal activity. If Holmes had not resigned, the investigation would have continued and included a polygraph test and checks by investigators to see if there was evidence that supported the citizens’ accusations, Tanner said.

Holmes’ work phone history was searched before it was disconnected, according to the report, and it states that Amanda O’Nan’s phone number was not found.