Assault charges dismissed against DeGroft, Holloman

Published 1:42 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2017

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

Assault charges resulting after a scuffle between former Isle of Wight County School Board member Herbert DeGroft and Smithfield resident Howard Holloman at the Pons polling precinct Nov. 8 were dismissed in Isle of Wight General District Court Thursday.

DeGroft and Holloman both filed charges against one another after a physical alteration ensued when Holloman attempted to take down a homemade anti-Hillary Clinton sign erected by DeGroft on a tree outside of Mount Tabor Church of God on election day. DeGroft’s sign referred to the presidential candidate as a “liar” and a “traitor.”  

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DeGroft, represented by attorney William Nexsen in court, testified that he had been touched twice by Holloman during the ordeal, once when Holloman jerked back his elbow at him as he tried to take his sign off the tree, and again when DeGroft tried to take it back and Holloman grabbed him by the shoulders. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Holloman, who appeared in court wearing a neck brace, represented himself, and adamantly protested DeGroft’s testimony, a couple of times while it was being given. 

“I grabbed the sign, he grabbed me,” said an emotional Holloman, who was told by bailiffs to wait his turn. “He’s lying.”

A witness showed the court a cellphone video she had taken of the encounter, which did show touching by both Holloman and DeGroft, according to Judge Parker Councill.

Councill ultimately ruled that the altercation was Holloman’s culpability, as he had initiated the rumble by taking down DeGroft’s sign, which, according to Councill, is a crime.

Holloman said he wasn’t being charged for that. Councill agreed.  

Holloman, known locally as the “Hound Hunter,” who volunteers as the Rescue Coordinator for Gimme Shelter of Smithfield, continued to deny any assault on his part.

“I am not well,” said Holloman. “I’m in no condition to assault nobody.”

Councill said that the video revealed physical contact between the two.  

“Any unwanted touching, no matter how small, is assault and battery,” said Councill. “I will dismiss the charge … But you were at fault.”

Councill said that if Holloman was willing to accept that, he could simply pay the court costs and move on.

After a few more words of protest, Holloman relented and agreed to accept the ruling.

“Well, you don’t look like a criminal to me,” said Councill as the hearing wrapped up.

“I should hope not,” replied Holloman.  {/mprestriction}