Police: Man made sexual comments to South Western HS student

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A South Western High School student was unhurt but shaken up after she was approached on or near school property by a man who said sexually explicit things to her, according to police.

"Student safety is paramount. Our No. 1 goal is to keep students safe," Penn Township Police Lt. Corey Merwede said. "We're going to do everything we can to figure out who this guy is."

It happened about 4:40 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, near the high school's tennis courts, he said.

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A man approached the girl, asked her inappropriate questions and made sexual comments to her, according to Merwede.

"The girl ran away to a nearby home," he said. "They, in turn, called the student's mom."

The mother alerted police, the lieutenant said.

South Western School District Assistant Superintendent Daniel Hartman said the district began working with police immediately after learning of the encounter.

"We have been in close communication and cooperation with the Penn Township Police Department," Hartman told The York Dispatch.

Merwede confirmed police are working closely with the district and are checking the high school's surveillance system to see if they can find images of the man.

Students need to know: He said it's important that students are told about the girl's disturbing encounter.

"We want them to walk in groups and to call (police to report) suspicious behavior," the lieutenant said, "so they can keep themselves safe."

Police will increase their presence on school property, Merwede said, adding that Penn Township Police already strive to have a solid presence at district schools.

He said the encounter "is definitely unusual" in the district.

The man being sought is described as white, in his 30s, 5-feet-6 or 5-feet-7, with a long brown beard, and he was driving a black vehicle, according to Merwede.

The South Western School District sent out alerts Tuesday night on social media and in phone calls to parents, according to one district parent.

The message posted on the district's Facebook page states, in part, that students should travel in groups when walking to or from school and/or bus stops and that anyone with information should call police.

"The district will continue to work with the Penn Township Police Department and our community to maintain the safety and security of our students," the statement reads.

Anyone who saw a man resembling the one described by Merwede — or anyone with any information about the encounter — is asked to call Penn Township Police at 717-637-8751. Or call 911.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.