A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XII

The following is the result of a more than 18-month long investigation by Fox Sports Williamsport into the Williamsport Area High School Baseball Team trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in the spring of 2018.

This story is graphic and contains details related to multiple indecent sexual assaults.

The author and editor of this story have made the editorial decision to not publish the names of the individuals under the age of 18 at the time of the incident who have been clearly identified as committing these acts in this case since they have not been formally charged with a crime.

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball

IF NOTHING HAPPENED IN MYRTLE BEACH

WHY WON’T THE WASD TELL US THE STORY?

PART XII

By Todd Bartley, Fox Sports Williamsport

Todd@Foxsportswilliamsport.com

570-327-1300

GOVERNOR WOLF CLOSES SCHOOLS FOR REMAINDER OF SCHOOL YEAR

On April 9, 2020, Governor Wolf closed all Pennsylvania schools for the remainder of the academic year. Schools had been closed indefinitely and previous to that at weeks at a time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

PIAA CANCELS SPRING SPORTS

Later in the day on April 9, 2020, the PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) canceled all winter sports championships as well as the spring sports seasons.

The cancellation of the spring sports season was announced the day after what would have been the Williamsport Millionaires baseball game at Altoona and the day before a home game against Danville.

However, with the cancellation of the season, no practices, team gatherings, team trips or games will happen this year.

 

WASD SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT LORI BAER TRAVELED TO MYRTLE BEACH IN MARCH

From Monday, March 9 through Friday, March 13, 2020 the Lycoming College softball team played multiple games in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and was quite successful on the trip.

WASD School Board President Lori Baer was in Myrtle Beach to support the team and shared photos on social media of her time on the trip.

Fox Sports Williamsport has confirmed with multiple Myrtle Beach law enforcement agencies that Lori Baer was not interviewed while she was in town during those dates.

Fox Sports Williamsport also confirmed Baer did not voluntarily approach Myrtle Beach law enforcement agencies to clear the air about the 2018 Williamsport Baseball team trip.

As previously reported by FSW on March 4, 2020 in Part XI; at the March 3, 2020 WASD School Board meeting, Williamsport community member Carlos Saldivia was granted five minutes to speak during the “ITEMS FROM PUBLIC” portion of the agenda.

In prepared comments to the WASD School Board Saldivia asked “the WASD Superintendent, WASD Board President (Baer), RTK Officer, WAHS Principal and WAHS Athletic Director to immediately resign” based on the Myrtle Beach incident.

To date, Baer, along with the WASD Superintendent, RTK Officer, WAHS Principal and WAHS Athletic Director have yet to resign.

If nothing happened on the 2018 Williamsport Baseball team trip to Myrtle Beach why would Baer not inquire while in Myrtle Beach in 2020?

 

IRONIC TWIST OF FATE

At the same March 3, 2020 WASD School Board meeting, Williamsport community member Carlos Saldivia asked  Baer and the WASD School Board for the WAHS Baseball program to be suspended indefinitely.

An excerpt of the Saldivia comments to the WASD School Board on March 3, 2020, “…and the H.S. baseball team program be immediately suspended indefinitely, as there are students on the team that are among the accused perpetrators of said sexual attacks and the District can’t be viewed as giving aid, comfort and cover to kids that sexually attacked, other kids.”

With the school closure order issued by Governor Wolf of March 13, and effective March 16, 2020, extended on March 23, 2020 and subsequent full academic year closure noted above; the WAHS Baseball program was indeed suspended indefinitely.

With the PIAA cancellation of the spring sports seasons; the seniors who were on the Myrtle Beach trip had their high school baseball careers ended abruptly with the stroke of a pen.

Ended, ironically enough as the innocence of a sleeping teammate who was attacked; in the process becoming the victim of an indecent sexual assault.

The incident already well documented in this series was recorded on video and shared to social media.

With the season cancelled and statewide Stay-at-Home Order in place issued by Governor Wolf on April 1, 2020 would make interviews of players and administrators so much easier.

However, the WASD School Board declined to even second a motion brought forward by Board member Adam Welteroth to open an independent third party investigation into the handling of the matter.

 

MYRTLE BEACH TRIP ANNIVERSARY HAS COME AND GONE

The coronavirus pandemic seemed to make the 2-year anniversary of the 2018 Myrtle Beach trip fly by at the end of March.

 

DOES THE SUN-GAZETTE PUBLISHER HAVE FAMILY TIES TO THIS STORY?

The local newspaper in Williamsport is the Sun-Gazette, printing “the news” since 1801.

Recently, Publisher Bob Rolley and Editor Laura Lee Janssen penned a passionate editorial plea to their audience in an attempt to stay relevant in the real-time evolving world of media in 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The editorial was titled, “Local news matters to help us all be safe”, however, fundamental questions need to be pointed out in regard to the credibility and inherent biases that may exist with both Rolley and Janssen in regard to this story.

Bob Rolley was the long time Publisher of the Lock Haven Express.

During those years, one of many controversies surrounding former Lock Haven University Athletic Director Sharon Taylor arose when she unilaterally eliminated the baseball program.

This author made several Right-to-Know Law requests of LHU and was quite successful in getting to the background facts that led to the baseball programs elimination and underlying deep financial issues and broken relationships with the alumni and the local community.

As the LHU baseball story unfolded, this author approached Bob Rolley about the RTK requests. Rolley shared at the time, they (Lock Haven Express) did not do those (RTK’s), especially since LHU is a major employer in Clinton County.

Based on the efforts of this author and many community members and alumni rallying to the aid of the LHU baseball program; it was reinstated only a few short days after being eliminated. The LHU baseball team made the PSAC playoffs that season.

The LHU baseball program being reinstated allowed Jimmy Webb III to play college baseball locally after transferring from Wake Forest University. Webb was a standout in the West End program under then head coach George Lepley.

The LHU baseball program also saw a new coach in the years that followed in Jim Chester, who subsequently continued to build a winning tradition before moving onto Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina. After success at Barton, Chester accepted the same position at Division I Gardner-Webb in North Carolina.

Back to Rolley, so reason dictates that if a major state funded with tax payer dollars entity will not face scrutiny in the face of controversy from the local newspaper; would it matter if family is involved in a story?

In the editorial Rolley and Janssen authored; they literally beg the reader to “trust” them with the news.

So, let’s go along for the sake of argument with this premise.

In order to be trusted with this story and being able to tell it, the first question to ask is, are you related to or have any potential conflict of interest with anyone involved?

Is the Publisher of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette Bob Rolley related to Brandon Pardoe or anyone else involved?

Fox Sports Williamsport has confirmed the answer is, yes.

Rolley and Pardoe are linked on the family tree.

Is it reasonable to conclude a conversation or two may have been had between those two over the past two years about the Williamsport High School baseball Myrtle Beach trip in 2018?

Brandon Pardoe is currently the head principal at Williamsport Area High School and was on the 2018 WAHS  baseball Myrtle Beach trip.

As this series has chronicled Pardoe ran the investigation in conjunction with former Lycoming County Chief Detective Willie Weber.

Laura Lee Janssen is a graduate of Williamsport Area High School.

Is it reasonable to ask, does she have reason to believe this story may cause issues for her alma mater, regardless of the facts in the case?

Is it reasonable to ask why the public comments of a community member asking for resignations never made the paper even though other topics at that particular meeting were published?

Is it reasonable to ask why coaches in other school districts get dragged through multiple articles will all of their alleged undocumented sins?

Is the mindset at the Sun-Gazette, we only print the positive press releases the WASD sends in?

Is it a systemic failure to not use the RTK law as the newspaper of record in Lycoming County?

Is the Sun-Gazette receiving advertising from any of the parents or families of WASD baseball players that have businesses?

Could that be considered quid pro quo for staying silent?

The time for Rolley and Janssen to resign has passed.

Is it time for Rolley and Janssen to be fired for failure to disclose the family ties, conflict of interest and inherent biases in this story by Ogden Newspapers and the Nutting Companies?

If the answer is yes.

Those two moves will help us all be safe and allow this area to put trust in receiving local news that matters from those outlets they can trust.

Part XIII is forthcoming in the weeks ahead.

 

LINKS TO 11-PART SERIES PUBLISHED BY FOX SPORTS WILLIAMSPORT

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XI

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART X

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART IX

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART VIII

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART VII

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART VI

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART V

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART IV

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART III

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART II

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART I

Millionaire Baseball Mayhem in Myrtle Beach