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32-year-old man accused of voyeurism, groping Bainbridge High students is charged

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — A 32-year-old man was charged Thursday with assault, voyeurism, indecent liberties and other charges for allegedly spying on a teenage girl in a restroom at Bainbridge High School, grabbing another girl’s breast in the hallway and then pulling down the shirt of another girl outside the school after he had fled police.

William Christopher Merritt, 32, of Poulsbo, was ordered held in Kitsap County Jail.

In court documents, police said officers were called to Bainbridge High School on Wednesday afternoon about reports of an unknown male on campus. The high school went into lockdown.

A Bainbridge police officer approached a suspect coming down a hill from the school and ordered him to take his hands out of his pockets, but the suspect refused and said to the officer “shoot me with the gun” several times. The suspect got into his car in the parking lot, locked it and drove out of the lot, striking the officer in the left leg and elbow. The officer was not seriously injured.

Officers got the car’s license plate number and a search began.

Police said they then learned there were two victims of Merritt in the school. A 15-year-old female student said she had gone into a restroom stall and then heard someone enter the stall next to hers. She told police that she then saw the man “look under the stall into hers. She looked right into his face.” The man then fled the bathroom.

A 16-year-old girl said she was walking down the hall when a man matching Merritt’s description grabbed one of her breasts and then walked away. She reported the incident to a teacher.

Later, police said, a 16-year-old girl who had left campus after the school lockdown was lifted was walking on Grow Avenue when the suspect walked up to her said, “You’re pretty, what’s your name?” He then grabbed the front of her shirt and pulled it down, exposing her breasts, and touched one of her breasts,” she told police. The girl said she pushed him away, and he said, “You’re really hot” and then walked away.

Police found the suspect in his car and he led them on a chase, refusing to stop until officers conducted a PIT maneuver.

Merritt was charged with one count of burglary with sexual motivation, one count of indecent liberties, two counts of second-degree assault, one count of first-degree voyeurism, and one count of attempting to elude pursuing police vehicles.

On Wednesday night, the Bainbridge Island School District said it was immediately improving security at the high school and that officers would be on hand.

“We will reduce the number of unlocked entry points to buildings on the BHS campus. During tomorrow’s BHS student advisory period, staff will review the new safety measures and remind students of the importance of speaking up if something or someone seems suspicious. A police officer from the Bainbridge Island Police Department will also be on campus for the remainder of the week.”