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Tri-West coach denies sexual misconduct allegations involving student

Posted: 10:45 AM, Aug 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-13 10:45:10-04
Tyler Bruce.jpg

HENDRICKS COUNTY — A Hendricks County football coach accused of sexual misconduct with a student denies the allegations.

Tri-West High School head football Coach Tyler Bruce is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a criminal investigation and Department of Child Services inquiry.

His attorney, Joshua Adair, of Hostetter& Associates, issued a statement to RTV6 on Monday evening.

“Coach Bruce completely denies the allegations,” read the statement. “We do not intend to try this case in the court of public opinion, and we have no further comment at this time.”

Last week, Call 6 Investigates spoke with Stacy and Mark Lewis of North Salem after they filed a tort claim on August 6 against North West Hendricks County School Corporation on behalf of their daughter, who is now 17-years-old and a senior at Tri-West High School.

The tort claim alleges Tyler Bruce requested the teen to be his aide during the 2018-2019 school year and asked to exercise together in the weight room at Tri-West High School.

Bruce also asked her daughter to participate in the track team where he coached her, according to Stacy Lewis.

Bruce exchanged inappropriate messages with Stacy's daughter late at night on Snapchat, and touched her under her clothing on several occasions, read the tort claim.

When the teen told Bruce she would not send him any more pictures, Bruce said if she didn't he would say she cheated on a math test.

"He said, 'you know, I'm the head football coach, and no one is ever going to believe you,'" said Stacy Lewis. "He used intimidation, threats, academics. It pushed far beyond the line."

The tort claim says in March 2019, someone made an anonymous call about Bruce working out alone with the teenage girl, but nothing happened for two months.

In May 2019, a school resource officer at Tri-West High School observed what he believed was an inappropriate interaction between Bruce and the teen and reported the incident.

The Hendricks County Sheriff's Office and the school district began their investigations into the matter.

Stacy Lewis and her attorney Jeff Gibson, of law firm Wagner Reese, allege the school failed to properly monitor Bruce and should have taken action back in March 2019 when the first complaint came in.

"Tyler Bruce is a symptom of a bigger problem in North West Hendricks County School Corporation," said Jeff Gibson, attorney for Stacy and Mark Lewis and their daughter. "When a complaint comes in with a teacher being alone with a student, the school has an obligation to step in at that point in time. Had they done that, we wouldn't be sitting here today."

The tort claim says the teen has suffered emotional distress and trauma as a result of Bruce's actions and the school's failure to protect her.

"I would hope that in a school system, the number one priority would be to protect students and it seems to have fallen woefully short in this instance," said Gibson.

They allege the school district was careless and negligent by failing to implement procedures to safeguard children at Tri-West High School and the North West Hendricks County School Corporation.

At the July 29 special session, the NWHSC administration recommended that Tyler Bruce's teaching contract be terminated.

However, the school board voted 4-0 against the administration's recommendation.

Bruce remains on leave due to the ongoing criminal and DCS investigations, said Superintendent Michael Springer.

Springer declined to comment on the tort claim filed August 6.

Call 6 Investigates learned Tri-West's Athletic Director Nathan Begle and Dean of Students Stacey Begle are both on paid administrative leave in connection with the Tyler Bruce case.

The Tri-West High School principal Adam Benner resigned in June after the investigation into Bruce began.

"There's obviously a lot more to the story," said Stacy Lewis. "I do know she wasn't protected and she wasn't safe."

Call 6 Investigates tried to contact the Begles and Benner for comment and we are still waiting to hear back.

When RTV6 sent emails to their school accounts, the emails did not go through.