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Simpsonville City Employees Suspended Over Affair, Fired Police Chief Alleges

Fire Chief and Assistant Police Chief were suspended by the city over an alleged long-running affair, fired Police Chief Keith Grounsell says.

Fired Simpsonville Police Chief Keith Grounsell said an alleged long-running affair between Simpsonville's fire chief and assistant police chief caused their suspensions Monday.

Grounsell told Patch that Fire Chief Wesley Williams and Assistant Police Chief Colleen O'Neil had continually violated the city's "romantic relationship" policy by denying it existed until photos of the two surfaced last week attesting to their relationship. 

O'Neil did not immediately respond to a voicemail left on her cell phone Tuesday seeking comment. Patch was unable to contact Williams.

Grounsell said city policy doesn't forbid a relationship between the two, but that it must be disclosed. Grounsell alleged O'Neil — whom Grounsell edged out for the chief's job in August — had continued to deny the affair to City Administrator Russ Hawes. Grounsell said he was forbidden to discipline O'Neil for the infraction. 

Grounsell alleged that his insistence on disciplining O'Neill was a major reason for the Council firing him in a 5-2 vote on Dec. 28. In a grievance letter filed with the city on Monday, Grounsell noted that the city forbade him to handle O'Neil and run the department as he saw fit. 

Because of an EEOC complaint filed by O'Neil against the city after she lost the chief's job to Grounsell, City Council and Hawes "told me I could not touch her or move her," Grounsell said, adding the city fearED a lawsuit if he persisted.

"I was trying to do the right thing, and the system got me," said Grounsell, who added that he aspired to bring ethics AND accountability back to the police department but was continually stymied by the city. 

"The people in office aren't doing what the people want," he said.

Patrick Powell January 12, 2013 at 08:54 AM
Do you know Keith Grounsell personally? If not then how can you speak to his morals or ethics? He's doing what any of us that feel that we have been wronged would do. He's only doing it on a much bigger stage and standing up for what he believes in to more than just his friends and family! I admire what he's doing and having known him personally since we were in high school I know him to be a man full of ethics and morals that are far exceeding those of most or any person that I have met in life!
Nana January 12, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Thank you for the info, Laura.
Jane Doe January 12, 2013 at 03:51 PM
That explains the "support" for O'Neil. When I responded to another posting on this site, "James" aka as Karen Henderson told me not to post if I wouldn't use my real name. What a hypocrite! At least EVEYONE on this site knows that I am posting anonymously because of the name that I am using. I am not trying to decieve anyone into thinking I'm someone I'm not. Yes I choose to post anonymously because of fear of retaliation from the good ol boys. If you, Colleen, really feel you are misunderstood because of your "affair" or other immoral things you have done while employed with the city, use your real name. And you want to talk about other peoples ethics. Geeez.
James Smith January 21, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Jane Doe, you are being foolish for blindly buying into what people like Laura Johnson are saying they have verified or confirmed. She again, is wrong. It would be better if people like yourself would either look for the truth or wait until its made publicly available. Its coming.... Hopefully then the light will be turned on for a lot of you people who are allowing yourselfs to be mislead. The lying people are not the ones who are being crucified for it. Ever heard the phrase those that scream the loudest are the guilty ones? Grounsell will be exposed for what he is. Then maybe people like yourself will begin to see what's really going on. Sad that everyone is so easily mislead. That's what the grounsells are banking on.
Ben Theronbach January 23, 2013 at 09:42 AM
My, my,my. The same council that sat on its hands and neither said or did anything when the former mayor and councilperson were destroying two families and embarrassing every citizen in the city, suddenly have become moral zealots! Where was your zeal before you started the ruination of the lives of city employees??!! Any person with half a mind could see that the immoral behavior of two elected officials opened the gate for the latest allegations. It is sickening, and grossly unfair to the citizens of Simpsonville!

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