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.