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Tri-West High School administrators call criminal charges 'unfounded'

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Posted at 7:24 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 19:24:37-04

HENDRICKS COUNTY— Two Hendricks County school administrators are now responding to criminal charges filed Friday by prosecutors, calling the charges “unfounded.”

Stacey Begle, dean of students at Tri-West High School, and Nathan Begle, athletic director at Tri-West High School, who are married, are both charged with Failure to Make a Report, a misdemeanor.

Prosecutors allege they failed to report allegations of sexual misconduct involving a teacher and student to law enforcement or the Department of Child Services.

The Begles released a statement to RTV6 Wednesday afternoon through their attorney Chris Taylor.

"Mr. and Mrs. Begle have not received formal notice of any criminal charges being filed against them from either the prosecutor or the Hendricks County Sheriff's Department,” read the statement. “Nevertheless, should such charges be filed, they are unfounded. Mr. and Mrs. Begle never had reason to believe that any student at Tri-West High School was the victim of child abuse or neglect prior to when the police began their investigation and charges were filed against Mr. Bruce.”

The Begles are still employed with the school district, records show, however, they’ve been on administrative leave since February following a formal complaint filed by the Indiana Department of Education against their teaching licenses.

It’s unclear if the North West Hendricks School Corporation will take action on the Begles’ employment status at its board meeting on Tuesday.

The school corporation has not issued a response to the criminal charges against the Begles.

Taylor said the Begles do not plan to attend the school board meeting.

“They look forward to having their names and reputations cleared at trial,” read the statement.

According to court documents, the district received multiple tips in February 2019 about teacher and coach Tyler Bruce working out alone with a female student with the door locked.

The tips also alleged an inappropriate, sexual relationship between Bruce and the student, who was 16-years-old at the time.

Prosecutors say, Stacey, Nathan, and Adam Benner, the principal at the time, had a meeting in which Benner told the Begles to bring any further information directly to him.

Benner said he and Nathan spoke with Bruce about no longer working out with the alleged victim, however, no one reported the allegations to the Indiana Department of Child Services or law enforcement at the time.

On May 3, 2019, attendance secretary David Pyatt saw the alleged victim and Bruce in his office with the lights off and later reported it to DCS.

PREVIOUS | Former Tri-West employee shares why he reported teacher’s alleged sexual misconduct

Following Pyatt’s report, the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office started investigating.

When an HCSO deputy spoke to Stacey in May, Stacey told the deputy they already heard about the allegations involving Bruce and it “had already been investigated and was determined to be without merit,” court records show.

Stacey continued to bring information to Benner.

David Pyatt urged Stacey to call DCS saying she was required to report it, and Stacey said she did not consider the deputy’s or Pyatt’s observations to be “new information,” records show.

On Nov. 4, 2019, a search warrant was granted for Bruce’s school email account and personnel record.

Court documents show there was no indication of Stacey or Nathan making any contact with Bruce in any way regarding the tips and concerned received in February 2019.

On Feb. 28, the school district announced the Begles were placed on paid administrative leave following a complaint filed by the Indiana Department of Education.

The former superintendent, Mike Springer, tried to fire the Begles in September 2019, but the board allowed them to return to their positions until the IDOE took steps against the Begles’ licenses.

IDOE is seeking to suspend the teaching licenses of the Begles for not reporting Bruce’s alleged inappropriate behavior to DCS or law enforcement.

The IDOE complaint is still pending, spokesperson Adam Baker said. A pre-hearing is scheduled for the Begles in September.

Benner, was also criminally charged with failure to report. A jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 21.

Bruce, who was subsequently fired from his teaching position, is charged with child seduction and obstruction of justice. His criminal trial is scheduled for Sept. 23.

Bruce has denied the allegations through his attorney.

PREVIOUS | Mother says Hendricks Co school failed to protect teen daughter from teacher and coach

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