Crime

Ex-Ravenscroft band teacher, now at Orange County Schools, charged with statutory rape

Bill Pendergrass, former band director at Ravenscroft School, has been charged with statutory rape and taking indecent liberties with a child more than 30 years ago, according to Wake County court records.

Pendergrass, 60, has been jailed with his bail set at $1.6 million. He faces six felony counts, involving intercourse with a 15-year-old girl, warrants said. The date on Pendergrass’s arrest information is 1986.

Warrants said he now works for the Orange County Schools system. An official there said Pendergrass, a middle school band teacher, was placed on administrative leave effective Friday.

At Ravenscroft, Pendergrass “was separated from his job” in May, according to a letter to parents from Kevin Anderson, board chair, and Doreen C. Kelly, head of school.

“In late April 2019, Ravenscroft received a highly detailed written complaint about Mr. Pendergrass related to a report of conduct that occurred more than 30 years ago in the context of his prior employment,” the letter said. “While the complaint pre-dated his time at Ravenscroft, in consultation with legal counsel, we immediately reached out to the complainant, placed Mr. Pendergrass on leave and contacted law enforcement officials to share the information we had received. He was subsequently terminated in May in conjunction with other unrelated factors.”

The letter said no illegal activity is suspected during his time at Ravenscroft. Orange County schools officials said they know of none there.

“We understand that this is very difficult news for our community,” the letter said, “and wanted to share this information with you as soon as we were able to do so. We are deeply committed to the care, safety, and well-being of our children, past, present and future. It is our highest priority.”

Ravenscroft is a pre-K through 12th grade independent day school located at 7409 Falls of Neuse Road in Raleigh.

Pendergrass won a district award of excellence from the N.C. Bandmasters Association in 2013. He had been active in the St. Baldrick’s Foundation since at least 2010. The group raises money for cancer research through people shaving their heads.

There is no statute of limitations on felonies in North Carolina, and alleged sex crimes have been prosecuted more than 25 years later, a UNC School of Government blog post noted last year.

Staff writer Joe Johnson contributed to this article.

Josh Shaffer covers Wake County and federal courts. He has been a reporter for The News & Observer since 2004 and previously wrote a column about unusual people and places.
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