CITRONELLE, Ala. (WALA)-- Investigators in Citronelle and Washington County are revealing more about former teacher, William “Billy” Gardner, who was arrested on Friday, accused of having sexually charged conversations with a teenage girl over the course of several years.
Citronelle Police and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office say the victim, a 15-year-old girl, was Gardner’s student when she was in 6th grade at Leroy High School when he taught there between 2017-2018.
Two weeks ago the victim’s father went to police after finding disturbing texts on her phone.
Gardner is charged with solicitation of a child and distributing obscene images.
Investigators strongly believe there are more victims who could be adults now.
They’re pleading for them to come forward.
“We have reason to believe there are multiple victims in this case and we want to make sure we give those victims an opportunity to come forward.”
Since 1999, Gardner has taught and coached football at seven schools in Washington, Mobile and Baldwin counties, some of them more than once, until investigators say his teaching license was revoked in 2018.
“We feel like this could have been stopped many years ago had appropriate action been taken at that point in time and we feel like that very possibly some things were ignored or swept under the rug,” said Citronelle Police Chief Tyler Norris.
Chief Norris wouldn’t elaborate on what actions could have been taken and by whom.
A search warrant was executed on Gardner’s home when he was arrested on Friday.
Investigators found 15 devices, including computers and phones, that are now undergoing forensic analysis.
FOX10 News did reach out to all of the school systems Gardner was employed with.
So far, we’ve only heard back from Mobile and Baldwin counties.
MCPSS says Gardner resigned from the school system.
BCPS says “We can confirm he was employed with the Baldwin County Public School System from August 2007 to May 2008. We will fully cooperate with authorities if requested.”
William "Billy" Gardner teaching/coaching timeline:
Fall 1999 - Fall 2002 Citronelle HS
Spring 2003 - Spring 2007 Satsuma HS
Fall 2007 - Spring 2008 Baldwin County HS
Fall 2008 - Spring 2010 Jackson HS
Fall 2010 - Spring 2011 Millry HS
Fall 2011 - 2012 Citronelle HS
Summer 2014 - Spring 2015 Millry HS
Fall 2015 - Spring 2017 Chickasaw HS
Spring 2017 - Spring 2018 Leroy HS