Report: Dismissed fireman was in relationship with teen while assisting with program

Matthew Oswald
Matthew Oswald J. Reuben Long Detention Center

A former member of Horry County Fire Rescue was fired after he was found to have “improperly engaged in a relationship” with a student while assisting with a program at the Academy for Technology & Academics, a report shows.

Matthew James Oswald, 31, of Conway, was arrested Jan. 17 and charged with sexual battery with a student. He was released the following day on $10,000 bond, but also learned his contract with HCFR was terminated as a result of the arrest.

“You have improperly engaged in a relationship with a high school student while assisting at the academic program at the (Academy for Technology & Academics),” according to a disciplinary report acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request by The Sun News. “This has led you to being arrested on (Jan. 17).”

Oswald was not an employee of Horry County Schools.

According to authorities, a 17-year-old girl reported a “sexual incident” allegedly involving Oswald occurring between the start of September and end of October. A report further states the event took place “while the victim was enrolled as a student at which the defendant was acting in a teaching capacity.”

Mixed history with fire department

Oswald was employed by HCFR since 2012. It had been almost six years since the department last disciplined him.

Oswald’s previous infractions occurred within a few months after starting with HCFR.

The first took place in May 2012, with Oswald being reprimanded for “failing to inform their supervisor or any other crew members of a walk-up patient” at the Socastee Fire Station. He was ordered to receive counseling for the infraction.

Two months later, he was disciplined for failing to secure a drug compartment after receiving narcotics for safe-keeping in an ambulance. Oswald also was reprimanded after not placing used needles in an approved container, potentially “exposing the public and/or co-workers to infectious waste.”

Those instances resulted in a written reprimand and loss of overtime pay, respectively.

Oswald’s most recent employee evaluation by Horry County occurred in last August. According to the review, Oswald met or far exceeded expectations asked of him.

“He has exceptional knowledge as his primary role as paramedic,” the report states. “He is very organized when he deals with essential duties and non-essential duties, such as the 1 percent fund for the station. He completes his work in a timely manner and ahead of deadlines.”

Oswald also was successful in passing evaluations posed by managers at Horry County Fire Rescue.

Should Oswald be exonerated of criminal charges, he could appeal to the county administrator and request he be allowed to reapply to a position of his interest, said Horry County public information director Kelly Moore.

However, she declined further comment on the matter. “It is Horry County government’s policy to provide documents rather than commentary concerning employee disciplinary matters to avoid confusion or misinterpretation,” Moore said.

Joe L. Hughes II: 843-444-1702, @JoeLHughesII