Horry County firefighter arrested for sexual battery with a student

Oswald appeared in a bond hearing Thursday morning. (Source: WMBF News)
Oswald appeared in a bond hearing Thursday morning. (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – An Horry County firefighter living in Conway was arrested Wednesday and charged with sexual battery with a student, according to jail records and other sources.

Matthew James Oswald, 31, from Conway, was arrested by Horry County police at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday and charged with sexual battery with a student. As of Thursday morning, he remained incarcerated at J. Reuben Long Detention Center. Horry County Schools Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said Oswald is neither a volunteer or paid employee of the school district.

The 17-year-old victim reported to police that between September and October 2017, a sexual incident took place on McCall Loop in the Conway area of the county, according to an incident report. This incident occurred while the victim was enrolled as a student, and Oswald was acting in a teaching capacity. Neighbors on McCall Loop told WMBF News Oswald was a very pleasant neighbor and were shocked and very upset to hear about the accusations.

Oswald was employee with Horry County Fire Rescue, but was terminated effective January 17, 2018, according to Horry County spokesperson Kelly Moore.

"As a matter of course, Horry County does not offer commentary on ongoing criminal investigations," Moore said in a statement.

During his bond hearing Thursday morning, the prosecuting attorney stated that Oswald is accused of sexual battery with a student. He requested that based on the nature of the incident, Oswald be allowed no contact with the victim or the victim's family, and be subject to GPS monitoring.

Oswald's defense counsel said that Oswald worked as a firefighter with HCFR at the time of the arrest. He was certified as an EMT at age16, a firefighter at 18 and a paramedic at age 21 and that is all he's done his entire life.  Oswald is originally from the Pennsylvania area, and has no criminal record. Oswald wished to return to his family home in Pennsylvania, and can do so within 48 hours, his lawyer said.

The judge set Oswald's surety bond at $10,000, and granted his request to be allowed to move back to his family's home in Pennsylvania. The judge said Oswald is to have no contact with the victim or the victim's family.

Oswald appears to be among the firefighters recognized in December 2017 for saving a one-year-old boy from drowning in an Aynor swimming pool in November.

HCFR spokesman Mark Nugent said he was unable to comment on Oswald's arrest because it is a personnel issue.

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