An Orange County Public Schools teacher was arrested on child sex crime charges that go back over 30 years.
William Thomas Pendergrass III, age 60, is charged with one felony count of statutory rape, two felony charges of statutory sex offenses and three felony charges of indecent liberties with a child.
After being contacted by authorities, Pendergrass turned himself in and was taken to the Wake County Detention Center under a $1.6 million secured bond. His next court appearance is Oct. 7.
The rape charge falls under general statute 14-27.7A(A) Statutory rape of a person 13,14 OR 15, which can carry a sentence of 44 to 182 months, which is 3 and a half to 15 years.
The statutory sex offense charges are Class B1 felonies and sentences can range from 144 months to life without parole. The indecent liberties charges can carry a sentence of between 10 to 41 months.
The charges stem from alleged incidents involving a 15-year-old female that took place during a one year period from July 14, 1986, to July 1987. Pendergrass was 27-years-old at the time of the alleged incidents.
It is not yet clear if the victim was a student at a school where Pendergrass might have taught during that time period.
Orange County School System is currently investigating and a spokesperson said Pendergrass has been placed on administrative leave. He was hired by the district on Aug. 19 and was the band teacher at Gravelly Hill Middle School located in Efland.
“The charges do not involve the Orange County Schools or our students, but are based on alleged conduct from years ago outside of the Orange County Schools,” said Orange County Chief Human Resources Officer Teresa Cunningham-Brown in a statement.
Prior to working in Orange County Schools, Pendergrass had been fired from the Ravenscroft School in Raleigh in May after the school received a “highly detailed written complaint” about Pendergrass and an incident that “occurred more than 30 years ago in the context of his prior employment.”
According to media reports, Pendergrass also allegedly taught in Virginia Beach, Virginia and at West Cary Middle School in Cary, North Carolina.
Pendergrass has a valid NC Teaching license in the area of Music K-12 which does not expire until 2023.
In a letter sent out to Ravencroft employees and parents, school officials said they have “worked cooperatively with local law enforcement pending the outcome of their investigation.”
” We respected their request to not take any steps that might impact the integrity of their investigation. At the same time, we took action to ensure the safety of our current students by removing Mr. Pendergrass’ access to campus or our students,” the letter said.
The letter says that school officials have not received any reports about Pendergrass during his employment at Ravencroft and that, “we are sharing this news with our community to provide the opportunity for other individuals to come forward if they have had similar experiences.”
The Ravencroft letter directs anyone with information to contact Detective K.T. Hubard of the Raleigh Police Department at (919) 996-1646.
Read the full letter: