Crime & Public Safety

Hilton Head elem. teacher charged with criminal sexual conduct with student, officials say

A Beaufort County elementary school teacher was arrested and charged with third degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor Thursday morning, according to officials.

Anthony Richard Heiter, 54, of Hilton Head Island, is a first grade dual language Spanish immersion teacher at Hilton Head Island Elementary School. Heiter was hired by the Beaufort County School District in July 2015, according to district spokesperson Jim Foster.

The alleged sexual assault occurred in October 2018 with a student inside the elementary school, according to Capt. Bob Bromage, spokesperson for the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

The alleged victim’s parents reported the assault to the school’s principal on Nov. 9, Foster said. Heiter was immediately removed from his position and placed on paid administrative leave, which he is still on as the investigation takes place, according to district spokesperson Foster.

Heiter turned himself in early Thursday morning and was booked into the Beaufort County Detention Center at about 6 a.m., Bromage said.

As of 9 a.m., a bond had yet to be set, according to the Detention Center jail log.

Heiter faces up to fifteen years in prison if he is convicted for the felony, according to state law.

The school district reported Heiter’s arrest Thursday morning to the South Carolina Department of Education, which has the sole authority to suspend or revoke South Carolina educators’ certificates, according to Foster.

Hilton Head Elementary is hosting a meeting for parents at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the school’s red auditorium, principal Sarah Owen said in a letter to parents Thursday afternoon.

“As we move forward, the safety and well-being of the students in the school, specifically his current and previous classes, will be our priority,” she wrote.

Representatives from the school and district will speak with Heiter’s class Friday to focus on students’ concerns and questions and to “alleviate any fears they may have,” the letter said.

Owen also wrote she wanted to emphasize that Heiter has not been convicted of anything or admitted guilt so he should be “presumed innocent until the judicial system determines otherwise.”

In addition to teaching, Heiter also works as a magician for a show called “The Magic of Anthony Heiter”, according to the rental company HHI Bounce House’s website.

The site called Heiter an “accomplished musician, actor and magician.”

“Anthony (Heiter) enjoys entertaining at birthday parties and specials events for all ages, performing up-close table-to-table magic or full stage performances,” the site says.

Heiter also plays the drums in a Lowcountry blues band called Royal Blues Machine, according to the band’s website.