Former WHS volunteer charged with failing to report

  • Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thomas Filchak

A warrant was signed Tuesday against a man who is on the state's Sex Offender Registry for failing to notify authorities he was doing volunteer work at Waccamaw High School, according to the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office.

As reported in the Georgetown Times in January, the man in question — 49-year-old Thomas Edward Filchak — was arrested in 2000 for showing his private parts to a 15-year-old boy.

He also attempted to get the boy into his van, according to a police report.

A Georgetown Police Department report from Sept. 26, 2000 states he was initially charged with Lewd Act Upon a Child Under 16, Indecent Exposure, and Failure to Stop When Signaled. He was subsequently convicted — in December 2000 — of Indecent Exposure, according to the Sex Offender Registry.

The incident report filed Friday, Feb. 7, says the Sheriff's Office was told on Jan. 9 about Filchak doing work at Waccamaw High.

The officer investigating says she spoke with Waccamaw High Principal David Hammel by phone on Jan. 9 and Hammel said Filchak “only once at half time of a football game helped other parents set up the marching band props,” the report states.

Waccamaw High's school resource officer was contacted to get Hammel to fill out a written statement indicating what he had said on the phone. Hammel was instructed by the district's attorney, Andrea White of Columbia, not to give a written statement.

During the investigation by the Sheriff's Office, pictures were found on the Waccamaw High marching band's Facebook page — dating as far back as March 2012 — showing Filchak with other parent volunteers at the school and other unknown locations with the band, the report states. The deputy also found a “Bands of Waccamaw” newsletter dated Oct. 1, 2013 “thanking Filchak by calling his name and other parent/volunteers for their help with the band,” the deputy wrote.

According to Georgetown County School District policy (IICC-R) all volunteers “may expect a background check which may include a criminal records check.”

Another District policy (GBEBDA) states: “The district will perform a National Sex Offender Registry check on all ... volunteers who work in a school on an interim or regular basis as mentors, coaches, chaperones or any other capacity resulting in direct interaction or contact with students.”

The policy continues: “The district will not permit individuals whose names appear in the National Sex Offender Registry or individuals who have been required to register as sex offenders pursuant to state law to work or serve in the district in any capacity.”

Attorney White told the Georgetown Times Hammel found out in December about Filchak being on the Sex Offender Registry after he discovered that the criminal background portion of the parent's volunteer form was not filled out.

She said Hammel had been told by the parent that the offense was public urination.

She said school district officials knew nothing about the parent being a sex offender.

The investigating deputy states she made contact with Jon Tester, the district's executive director of human resources, to get a copy of the volunteer form Hammel said was not filled out completely by Filchak.

“I was later informed that the volunteer form could not be located at the school district,” the deputy wrote.

In an earlier e-mail to the Georgetown Times, attorney White stated “when Mr. Hammel learned of the charge and discussed it with Filchak, both agreed that (he) would cease any further involvement with the Marching Band.”

In another e-mail, dated Jan. 9, White says the subject was not a volunteer at the school.

“He is the parent of a child who attends Waccamaw High School and, in that capacity, he attended after-hours school events, including several football games. As a parent of a band member, he assisted other band parents with moving sets onto and off of the football field during half-time. He has not attended any events on school grounds since October 2013. Filchak never served as a chaperone, never volunteered with students during the school day, and did not act as a volunteer in any other capacity.”

The Sheriff's Office considers the man's activities as being volunteer work and says he was supposed to notify authorities if he was going to be doing any work around children or teenagers.

“Due to the subject failing to notify (the Sheriff's Office) as required by law within three business days of his volunteer status, this report will be presented to a magistrate for a warrant ... for failure to register or provide notifications,” the deputy wrote.

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Carrie Cuthbertson said the warrant was signed Tuesday morning by Georgetown County Chief Magistrate Isaac Pyatt.

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