Steve Hurley, 68, the owner of Hurleyâ€™s Creekside Dining and Rhum Bar in Maggie Valley, was arrested last week on 44 charges of statutory sexual offense, indecent liberties and crimes against nature.
The victims were under 16 when the alleged sexual abuse occurred in 2006 and 2007, but they are now adults, according to police warrants.
Hurley moved to Maggie Valley several years ago and bought a restaurant. He and his wife, Julie, ran the business together.
The couple has several adopted children, and some of them have worked at the restaurant as well.
Their four adopted sons are now young adults, but their two daughters are still school-aged and living at home.
Hurleyâ€™s wife, who is 11 years younger than him, has not been charged in connection with the alleged child sex abuse. She has been very cooperative, as has the entire family, said Maggie Valley Police Chief Scott Sutton.
The investigation is ongoing, Sutton said.
Rumors surrounding Hurleyâ€™s arrest have been rampant in Maggie Valley over the past week, with the most wide-spread rumor referencing the dozens of foster kids Hurley and his wife have taken in over the years.
However, Hurley has not had any foster kids in his home since moving to Haywood County, Sutton said. Neither Hurley nor his wife are licensed or registered as foster parents in Haywood County, according to records of the Haywood County Department of Social Services.
But he and his wife took in many foster kids in the past, before moving to Maggie Valley. Sutton said the Maggie Police Department is contacting the appropriate law enforcement agencies in the states and counties where Hurley has lived prior, including Florida and South Carolina.
It would then be up to those law enforcement agencies to investigate, a process that would presumably involve tracking down foster kids who had passed through Hurleyâ€™s home going back 10 years or more.
Hurley is being held in jail on a $1 million bond.
Prior to his arrest, Hurley spent over a week in the hospital due to a suicide attempt. Hurley apparently checked into a motel in Maggie Valley and attempted to commit suicide on Feb. 5, according to police reports.
Someone who was concerned for Hurleyâ€™s well-being called the police. Police then drove to the motel to check on Hurley, discovered the attempted suicide and sent him to Haywood Regional Medical Center.
In the hotel room, police â€śfound a note that led them to initiate an investigation into possible sexual assaults involving children,â€ť according to a police statement.
However, it seems the allegations of past abuse may have come out even without the suicide note.
â€śThere were several things all coming up at once,â€ť Sutton said of how the case came to their attention.
Hurley spent the next week-and-a-half in the hospital. He was arrested immediately upon being discharged on Friday, Feb. 14.
He was taken directly from the hospital to the jail, where he was still being held on a $1 million bond as of press time. High bonds are not uncommon for suspects charged with child sex abuse.
Hurley has been involved in town politics for the past two years. Last fall, he ran for a seat on the town board but didnâ€™t get enough votes to win one of the seats.
The year before that, Hurley was one of several who applied to fill a sudden vacancy on the town board. At the time, Aldermen Phil Wight and Mike Matthews favored Hurley and wanted to name him to the empty seat.
But the other two town board members, Alderwoman Saralyn Price and Mayor Ron DeSimone, refused to pick Hurley.
Each locked in their position, the seat ultimately went unfilled for an entire year, leaving the choice up to voters in the next official election.