In August 2018, Fox Sports Williamsport published a report on their website called “Millionaire Baseball Mayhem in Myrtle Beach” by Todd Bartley. The article opens with a lengthy explainer about Bartley’s bona fides as a reporter and as a longtime local to the area. It reads as if Bartley is attempting to prevent, or at least mitigate, an angry response to what he’s about to write even before he’s written it. And when he gets to the gist of the report, you understand why.
In March of 2018 the Williamsport Area High School Baseball team took a trip to play games in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Several Williamsport Area High School administrators also made the trip.
One evening during the trip at the team hotel a player was assaulted by at least one other teammate.
The incident was captured on a device and shared via at least one social media site with multiple parties.
According to multiple sources that viewed the social media video of the incident in question assertions have been made it depicts several acts of a sexual nature toward the victim who was reportedly asleep when it began and was then held down when awake.
The incident would have otherwise not been reported or at least had not been reported up until that point, as was required by any coach or school official who was aware of it.
Bartley’s initial report led to the publishing of seven stories between December 30, 2019, and January 9, 2020, all under the title “A Baseball Story in the Birthplace of Little League Baseball.” Each one is accompanied by a preface.
“The following is the result of a more than 18-month long investigation by Fox Sports Williamsport into the Williamsport Area High School Baseball Team trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in the spring of 2018. This story is graphic and contains details related to multiple indecent sexual assaults. The author and editor of this story have made the editorial decision to not publish the names of the individuals under the age of 18 at the time of the incident who have been clearly identified as committing these acts in this case since they have not been formally charged with a crime.”
Throughout this series, Bartley tries to explain why certain information was not made available to him in his investigation, why he couldn’t get the answers that he needed to share the truth, and how Fox Sports Williamsport sought a court order to obtain phone records in order to understand what really happened.
While the reporting doesn’t get every detail, Bartley’s reporting identifies Ryan Lee Miller, Williamsport Area High School’s baseball coach at the time, as the same Ryan Miller who had been arrested the day the baseball team arrived in Myrtle Beach for assaulting a woman on the beach. Miller resigned as coach of the team in April 2018, a month after the trip in question.
It wasn’t until May 2018 when the incident made it’s way to the district attorney’s office, which launched an investigation by the school board. According to the Williamsport Area School District, the incident was investigated and discipline was imposed but privacy laws prevent it from disclosing what discipline measures it took. While the results of their investigation were forwarded to Myrtle Beach police, they never filed any charges.
Now, almost two years later, Miller is fighting back against Bartley and Fox Sports Williamsport’s reporting. Miller has filed a suit against Bartley, the general manager of Fox Sports Williamsport, which alleges defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Miller also names station owner Colonial Radio Group of Williamsport, Fox Sports Radio, and syndicator Premier Networks Inc. The complaint also names Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox Corp., and iHeart Media Inc.
According to Pennlive, Miller claims that the incident report in question was not about his arrest but was in fact related to Miller calling authorities after he and two other coaches witnessed an altercation and went to aid the victim. Bartley acknowledges this in Part VI of his recent series.
The complaint also claims Bartley’s reporting contains false and defamatory statements, specifically that Miller and others had conspired to cover up the incident. Bartley had reported that Miller told his players to “keep quiet” and not to discuss or share the video of the incident, which he denies doing.
Miller is seeking over $50,000 in damages. Bartley did not comment when Pennlive tried to reach out to him.
Bartley, this WLYC radio station (which he’s owned since 2013), and its affiliates (which used to be ESPN and ABC; it switched to Fox Sports Radio in March 2017) were also sued for defamation in 2016 over a different series of reports.