EDITOR’S NOTES: This article has been updated to reflect that the Attorney General’s case regarding the Williamsport Area School District Baseball team’s trip to Myrtle Beach has been closed due to lack of evidence. The case was closed in July, 2021. The previous article did not clearly state that the search warrant was filed on Sept. 3, 2020, and the case has been closed due to lack of evidence.
A search warrant issued by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Sept. 3, 2020, has been unsealed, giving insight into a controversial case involving sexual assault between two juveniles on the Williamsport Area School District’s baseball team in May, 2018.
The unsealed warrant alleged a conspiracy involving high school Principal Brandon Pardoe and Lycoming County Chief Detective William Weber to obstruct investigation into the incident.
“The affiant is investigating the alleged conspiracy between Weber and Pardoe to violate PA Title 18, Section 5101: Obstructing Administration of Law or Other Governmental Functions,” the affidavit of probable cause states.
Regarding the investigation, and the now unsealed warrant, Williamsport Area School District Superintendent Dr. Timothy Bowers reaffirmed that the school district handle the case appropriately.
“Everyone in this school district handled this case exactly correctly,” Bowers said. “There is no evidence that suggests that the district did anything wrong.”
Through the attorney general’s investigation, conducted by Agent David Scicchitano, the affidavit claims that Weber did not complete any reports about the incident until requested by outside agencies and he lied to an assistant district attorney about his knowledge of the case.
Pardoe, who has a relative who “may have participated in the alleged assault,” was also accused in the affidavit of attempting to cover up the severity of the incident.
“There is also evidence that Weber, Pardoe, and Attorney George Lepley, who represented the juvenile male suspect #1, communicated with each other and participated in this investigation early on,” the affidavit states.
The attorney general’s warrant, which was delivered to Williamsport Area School District Superintendent Dr. Timothy Bowers and Lycoming County District Attorney Ryan Gardner, asked for data from Weber and Pardoe’s cellphones as well as their email contents.
In addition, it requested an unredacted version of a letter written by Lepley on May 31, 2018, and sent to Pardoe and the school Athletic Director Sean McCann. The subject line of the letter reads, “Re: Misconduct Myrtle Beach.”
Gardner notified the public on Wednesday that after seeing the unsealed warrant from the Attorney General’s Office he asked for a meeting with Weber. At this meeting, Weber retired after 40 years in law enforcement, according to Gardner.
Gardner offered no further comment.
The misconduct in Myrtle Beach refers to the alleged sexual assault of a juvenile member of the school baseball team by other juvenile members of the the team, which also was videotaped.
The video was filmed inside one of the hotel rooms and shows the juvenile male victim asleep on the couch when the other “male suspect #1, a teammate, appeared to have put his penis on the face of the sleeping victim,” according to the affidavit.
Beyond the video, further allegations were made by witnesses that team members “inserted fingers or (tried) to insert a TV remote into the juvenile male victim’s rectums.”
“On 5/18/2018, a Lycoming County Children and Youth Services employee, Corey Burkholder, saw this video. He reported this to Matt Wood of CYS. Both Burkholder and Wood are mandated reporters. Wood did a Child Line report, and he notified Willy Weber, then Chief County Detective for Lycoming County who worked out of the Lycoming County District Attorney’s Office. Weber notified the high school Principal, Brandon Pardoe.”
No initial report was made into the incident once it was reported to Weber, who said in a letter to CYS on Oct. 8, 2018, that he did not write a report since he had no jurisdiction about what happened in Myrtle Beach, but “would assist and make referrals if need be. I also told him I was aware of the trip and what usually goes on during the annual trip.”
Weber further said he did not feel “there was a referral to be made.” He went on to say, “Clearly this was a hazing/bullying issue that the school properly handled.”
According to interviews by the Attorney General’s office with the victim and the suspects involved, the punishment for the juveniles involved was a two-game suspension.
An interview with the parent of the juvenile who admitted to video recording the incident revealed that Pardoe told them “Please don’t ever talk about what happened… I have it under control.”
The parent went on to recount that Pardoe said, “It’s not gonna go anywhere, so not to worry about anything… you have nothing to worry about… I just was here to apologize for not having him play the two games.”
The Myrtle Beach police department contacted Weber on Sept. 28, 2018, to ask about the incident, however he did not tell them about the sodomy allegations. The police department also contacted county Assistant District Attorney Jeff Yates on the same date. Yates later told the attorney general agents that at the time he asked Weber if he knew about the incident and he said Weber said he “had no knowledge of the allegations.”
In contrast, during interviews with the victim and his parents, attorney general agents said the victim and his parents met with Pardoe and Weber during the last week of May, 2018, and recounted the entire incident as well as the individuals involved.
“According to the victim’s mother: ‘They promised me they would get back to me… they promised they would question people involved and they would get back to me.’ As of today, none of them has ever contacted the victim’s mother.”
The next Williamsport Area School District meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 5.
Bravo to Anne Reiner! I’ve been following her writing and she is an excellent aspiring journalist. We in NEPA are gifted to have her. Keep up the good work!