Long-time Kennewick Teacher Accused of Sex with Student

Long-time Kennewick Teacher Accused of Sex with Student »Play Video
History teacher William Pickerel pictured in Kennewick High School yearbook. Pickerel taught for the Kennewick School District for 38 years.
KENNEWICK -- It's a bombshell for this community.

A teacher who spent nearly 40 years in the Kennewick schools is now accused of having sex with a student.

Kennewick Police arrested Kennewick High School substitute teacher William Pickerel on Friday for two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor.

These allegations came to light to local police on Friday, after helping the Seattle Police Department with their own investigation into Pickerel.

Police said the alleged victim is 16- or 17-years-old but won't confirm if it's a boy or a girl.

"I was just like 'are you kidding?' I thought it was a rumor," Kennewick High sophomore and neighor of Pickerel Kali Buckendorf said.

"It's just really unexpected," Kennewick High senior John Harmon said. "Like there's rumors around school and stuff. But no one believes it. He's a really nice guy."

Pickerel began working as a history teacher back when Eisenhower was president.

He worked at Park Middle School in Kennewick for nearly a decade, then went on to teach at KHS a year later.

He didn't retire from KHS until Clinton was in office, in 1998.

The teacher was so well known, Kennewick High School leaders named the annex of the school Pickerel Hall in his honor.

"He's always seemed like a really nice guy and he always takes kids on trips and every time I've talked to him, he always been really nice and actually really giving," Buckendorf said.

"He's my favorite teacher," Harmon said. "I always see him in the hall. He's really nice to all the students. Everybody likes him. Probably can't find one person in the school who doesn't like him."

Pickerel worked part-time as a substitute teacher after he retired.

Students said he often took kids on weekend trips to Seattle.

"He takes kids to Seattle for baseball games, football games, basketball games," Harmon said. "He does it all and he pays for it. The kids don't have to pay for nothing. He takes care of everything. He's been doing these trips for a long time and nothing like this has ever come up."

But the school district said those trips were not sanctioned by the school.

Students said Pickerel drove his own car and paid for students out of his own pocket.

Police said it was on one of these trips that Pickerel had sex with the student.

They believe the other encounter happened in Kennewick.

"As disturbing as this information is, it's important that everyone is aware the Kennewick School District is in full cooperation with the Kennewick Police Department," Superintendent of Kennewick School District Marlis Lindbloom said.

While police get underway with the criminal investigation, the school district is launching its own internal investigation.

Lindbloom said the school will interview all staff without interfering with the criminal investigation.

In the meantime, the school district has taken Pickerel off the substitute teacher's list.

"I just think he's innocent," Harmon said. "I don't think he did it."

Pickerel is being held at the Benton County Jail on a 72-hour investigative hold.

He had his first court hearing Monday afternoon where a judge set his bail at $200,000.

The prosecutor's office has not pressed any formal charges.

They have until Wednesday to do so.

Pickerel does not have any criminal history with Benton County Superior or District Court.

Prosecutor Andy Miller said the investigation shows there are probably more victims out there.

Police are encouraging anyone with information to come forward.

Call Crime Stoppers at 509-586-8477 or the Kennewick Police Department with any information.