Man charged with assaulting 2 Bainbridge Island High students before police chase

Bail was set at $500,000 on Thursday for William Christopher Merritt. (Photo: KOMO News)

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- The 32-year-old man arrested after leading police on a chase on Bainbridge Island was charged Thursday for reportedly sexually assaulting two high school girls and looking at a girl underneath a bathroom stall, court documents state.

William Christopher Merritt is charged with first-degree burglary with sexual motivation, indecent liberties, two counts of second-degree assault, one count of first-degree voyeurism and attempting to elude pursuing police vehicle, according to court documents.

Merritt is a veteran with no criminal record, his lawyer said in court Wednesday. He pleaded not guilty. His bail was set at $500,000.

Officers were first called to the high school about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday after a report that an unknown man was on campus, documents state. The school then went into a lockdown.

Police learned that earlier Merritt had reportedly went into the girls bathroom at the school where a 15-year-old girl said she found him looking underneath her stall. She told police that he then ran out.

He is also accused of grabbing a 16-year-old girl's breast in the school hallway.

After the incidents, court documents state the school principal and another staff member were able to locate Merritt heading to the lower parking lot.

An officer was able to spot the man, who reportedly told the officer to "shoot me with the gun," before he took off in his car.

While police initiated an area-wide search for Merritt, documents state a 16-year-old girl told police that she was walking on Grow Avenue after the lockdown was lifted when Merritt reportedly walked up to her, pulled down her shirt and touched her breasts.

Documents state the victim pushed him away and he commented, "you're really hot," to the girl before walking away.

Merritt was later found after a police chase that ended when police hit and surrounded his car. They forcibly had to remove him from the car before he was taken into an ambulance.

Bainbridge Island Police Chief Matthew Hamner said Wednesday that Merritt is apparently not from the area.

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