Committee recommends reversal of officer's suspension

      Ron Avallone at a grievance hearing held in August (Valencia Wicker/WCIV)

      FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) -- A committee assigned to hear the case of a Folly Beach public safety officer accused of mishandling a sexual assault case will recommend the city council overturn his suspension.

      The decision by the Grievance Committee is included in a report made public late Wednesday afternoon by Folly Beach City Administrator Toni Connor-Rooks.

      Council members likely will review the recommendation at a meeting Oct. 9.

      Folly Beach officer Ron Avallone was suspended back in July after he was accused of failing to arrest a man who had reportedly inappropriately touched a 13-year-old girl.

      An internal review document says around 9:30 p.m. on June 23 the man, Fred Rogers, was accused of sexually assaulting the young girl on the beach. It says after the Rogers left the scene, he returned to his condo complex where officials say he sexually assaulted another woman at a pool. According to documents, charges have been filed in those cases against Rogers.

      {}Avallone responded by saying the call went in to him as a "suspicious man harassing people." He said had no idea there was a situation of sexual assault and that the sexual assault allegation was later addressed by another officer.

      Avallone appealed a 40-hour suspension and also asked to be transferred to another supervisor.

      The grievance committee recommended the suspension be overturned but made no decision on whether to transfer Avallone.

      "My recommendation to overturn is based solely on what I perceived to be weaknesses in the evidence presented against him and the lack of any prior records of poor/incomplete work contained in PSO Avallone's personnel file," said committee Chairman Aaron Pope in the report, which is dated Sept. 14.