Courts-Martial Possible for Guard Recruiters in South Carolina Cheerleading Sex Case

A National Guard officer will soon decide whether two military recruiters will be court-martialed over accusations that one had sex with a high school student and the other with a cheerleading coach, the Guard's top attorney said Wednesday.

An investigation completed this week was forwarded to the Guard's chief of staff, said Lt. Col. Thomas Eppink, the Guard's acting judge advocate general.

"There is a continuum of action that can be taken — ranging from no action at all to a court-martial," Eppink told The Associated Press.

Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Fletcher and Sgt. Jeremy Pileggi have not been charged by police. The Guard investigation involves whether they violated the military code of justice.

Punishments could range from a reduction in rank to bad-conduct discharges and confinement, Eppink said.

The soldiers were suspended from their recruiting duties after the arrests of Ware Shoals cheerleading coach Jill Moore and high school principal Jane Blackwell in January.

Moore told the cheerleaders she was taking them to visit a prospective college, according to sheriff's office reports. Instead, they went to a motel where she met Fletcher in one room, and gave the cheerleaders vodka and put them in a room with Pileggi, the reports said.

Moore was reportedly having an affair with Fletcher, 29. Pileggi, 21, acknowledged having sex with a 16-year-old cheerleader, and one of the cheerleaders said she watched Moore and Fletcher have sex, the reports said.

Because the cheerleader was 16, she was old enough to consent under state law.

Moore and Fletcher allegedly also had sex at a Guard armory in Greenwood. And at least one of the cheerleaders said Moore picked up alcohol for them at a separate Guard training center in Plum Branch, the reports said.

Moore resigned after being charged with supplying alcohol and cigarettes to students and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Blackwell, who was suspended from her job, is accused of ordering cheerleaders not to talk to authorities. Both have maintained their innocence.

Pilleggi did not immediately return a message left at his home Wednesday. A number for Fletcher went unanswered.

The soldiers were given administrative duties and continue to receive pay, said Guard spokesman Col. Pete Brooks.