Gateway High School band director charged, accused of providing alcohol to student

MONROEVILLE, Pa. — Gateway High School band director James Hoeltje is facing a charge of selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor, according to a criminal complaint.

On Monday, a note went home to district parents, informing them an investigation of a high school employee was underway. The note read, “Due to the nature of these disturbing charges, the employee will remain on suspension and the district will proceed with termination as dictated by PA School.”

According to the district’s website, Hoeltje became the band director in 2016.

Band camp, which was set to start on Monday, was postponed following the charges against Hoeltje.

Gateway Band Boosters President Mary Chase told Channel 11 they were informed of the change in a letter over the weekend.

Chase sent Channel 11 a statement:

“The Gateway Band Boosters is aware of information based on Dr. Short’s email and the recent police charges, and we are saddened by what occurred. We are grateful that the Monroeville Police and the Gateway School District are looking out for the best interest of our children, and we fully support our children and the band. We are thankful that the Gateway School district chose to delay the start of band camp in order to keep our kids safe. We would not want any child to be subjected to an onslaught of questions in conjunction with this investigation. We ask that the media respect our children’s privacy during this time, and especially when band camp starts.”

According to the complaint, an 18-year-old former Gateway student described to police several incidents involving Hoeltje that began back in January.

The victim stated that Hoeltje shared his family struggles with her and would refer to her as his best friend. The complaint stated during a trip to Virginia, Hoeltje “molested” her while they both drank alcohol.

The teen said they began texting and sending each other Snapchats in January 2022. According to her, a majority of communications were done via Snapchat. The complaint stated that text messages, Snapchats, and in-person conversations would sometimes be sexual in nature, and Hoeltje would talk about his sex life with his wife. The victim also said Hoeltje would often hug her or hold her hand when they were alone in his office.

According to the complaint, the victim told police that during a band trip to Virginia Beach at the end of April, she went to Hoeltje’s room, where he provided her with two airplane bottles of vodka and whiskey, which she drank. The victim said she became dizzy and laid on the bed, where Hoeltje then climbed on top of her and tried to kiss her multiple times before she was able to “squirm” out from under him.

The criminal complaint states Hoeltje provided the teen with a bottle of vodka the day before prom.

The criminal complaint states that Hoeltje admitted to purchasing alcohol for the teen at her request. He also acknowledged he probably crossed a line and shared too much about his personal life with her, but he denies that he tried to kiss her.

Hoeltje is not facing any charges related to inappropriate sexual conduct.

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