The following is a breakdown of the now closed investigation into the alleged sexual assault said to have occurred during a Williamsport Area High School Baseball trip to Myrtle Beach in May, 2018.
Newly unsealed search warrants have provided more information about what was uncovered during the investigation.
The school district’s response to the incident has come under scrutiny over the past years as control over the criminal investigation transitioned from Lycoming County to the State Attorney General’s office.
Williamsport District Superintendent Dr. Timothy Bowers said that the district handled the investigation 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.”
Date of alleged incident: May, 2018
The Williamsport Area High School baseball team traveled to Myrtle Beach for a tournament. During the trip, a report was made about an alleged sexual assault on some members of the team by other team members. The assault was videotaped.
May 18: Incident reported to CYS:
(According to the) Attorney General Sept., 3, 2020, search warrant affidavit of probable cause: “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.”
Sept. 28, 2018: Myrtle Beach Police Department Contacts Lycoming County Chief Detective William Weber and Assistant District Attorney Jeff Yates to inquire about the incident
- According to the attorney general’s affidavit, when Yates asked Weber if he knew about the investigation, Weber said he did not.
Jan. 2020: Williamsport school district releases statement on incident
- According to the statement: “Near the end of the 2017-2018 school year, local law enforcement brought to the district’s attention an alleged incident involving indecent and inappropriate behavior by a baseball player during the team’s spring trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The information had not been previously reported to any district administrator or employee. Once the district was contacted, a prompt investigation was completed and appropriate discipline was issued. Federal educational privacy laws prohibit the district from disclosing any specifics regarding what discipline was levied and who was involved.” See the full statement here.
May, 2020: Lycoming County District Attorney referred the case to the state Attorney General
- According to District Attorney Gardner: “The OAG formally assumed jurisdiction of the Myrtle Beach Investigation May 27, 2020. It is important to note that once a referral is accepted by the OAG, this Office has no more involvement with the case.”
September, 2020: Three separate search warrants were filed by the Attorney General’s Office.
- According to Gardner: “After the OAG assumed jurisdiction, the OAG filed under seal three separate search warrants during September 2020. When a search warrant is filed under the seal, the warrant is not accessible to the general public until that warrant is made releasable by the Prothonotary’s Office. The warrants filed under seal by the OAG during the month of September 2020 were not accessible to this Office nor were the contents of the sealed warrants shared with this Office.”
- The warrants, which are now unsealed, (which were unsealed on or around Sept. 24, 2021) requested phone data from the cellphones of Weber and Pardoe as well as an unredacted letter sent by attorney George Lepley to Pardoe on May 31, 2018, with the subject line: “Re: Misconduct Myrtle Beach.”
- Find the results of the search warrants here.
July 1, 2021: Attorney General closes case
- According to Gardner: “On or about July 1, 2021, I received a letter from the OAG indicating, “[f]ollowing a lengthy and thorough investigation, the OAG has determined that insufficient evidence exists to justify any further action. As such, we are closing our file.”
September, 2021: Search Warrant results unsealed/Weber retires
- According to Gardner: “It is my understanding that the warrants were made releasable on or about September 23 or September 24. Copies of the warrants were provided to me on the morning of the 28th. Following my review of the warrants, I immediately requested a meeting with Detective Weber and during this meeting held Tuesday afternoon he indicated to me that he was retiring, effective immediately.”
No further criminal action is expected to be made in regard to this case.
As of press time, the attorney general’s office did not respond to inquiries about why it felt no charges could be filed in the case.
Below is the full statement from Gardner detailing the investigation timeline: