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Ex Tri-West High School administrators admit they failed to report suspected child abuse

Nathan and Stacey Begle reach agreement with prosecutors
begles_tri_west.jpg
Posted at 8:00 AM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 20:54:02-04

HENDRICKS COUNTY — Two former Hendricks County school administrators reached an agreement with prosecutors this week in which they admitted they failed to report suspected child abuse or neglect as required by Indiana law.

Stacey Begle, former dean of students at Tri-West High School, and Nathan Begle, former athletic director at Tri-West High School, who are married, were both charged in July 2020 with failure to make a report, a misdemeanor.

They signed a pretrial diversion agreement with Hendricks County prosecutors in which they admitted to the Failure to Make a Report charge, and agreed to not commit a new criminal offense during the one-year agreement, work at suitable employment, and promptly respond to telephone calls and letters from the prosecutor’s office.

The pretrial diversion agreements were filed July 12, court records show.

The Begles must also have no contact with the victim for the duration of the agreement and must notify the prosecutor’s office of any changes in address or employment.

If the Begles violate the agreement, prosecutors may move forward with prosecution, according to the agreement.

If the Begles comply with the agreement, the criminal charges will be dismissed.

They released a statement this afternoon through Stacey's attorney.

"The Begles care deeply about the safety of students in any environment. They accepted a pre-trial diversion, which will ultimately result in the dismissal of these charges, in part because they wanted to spare the staff, students, and community the grief of a trial and prevent further disruption at Tri-West. They are grateful to all of the community members who have reached out to them and shared their support."

Nathan and Stacey Begle were terminated by the North West Hendricks School Corporation in September 2020.

The Indiana Department of Education filed complaints against the Begles last year, seeking to suspend their teaching licenses for not reporting then teacher Tyler Bruce’s alleged inappropriate behavior to DCS or law enforcement.

IDOE spokesperson Holly Lawson told WRTV this week there are no updates on their action against the Begles.

Nathan Begle’s teaching license is listed as “expired” in online records, and no records at all come up for Stacey Begle.

In a statement to WRTV last year through Nathan's attorney Chris Taylor, the Begles called the charges “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,” read the statement from last year. “They look forward to having their names and reputations cleared at trial.”

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 Begle, Nathan Begle, 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.

Benner also reached a pretrial agreement with prosecutors, however, his agreement included a requirement to write an apology letter to the victim.

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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.

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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, records show.

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 Begle making any contact with Bruce in any way regarding the tips and concerned received in February 2019.

On Feb. 28, 2020, 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.

Tyler Bruce pleaded guilty in May to a misdemeanor charge of attempted obstruction of justice as part of a plea agreement with Hendricks County Prosecutors.

As part of the plea, prosecutors dismissed three charges, including child seduction and obstruction of justice.

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The federal government has also launched an investigation into whether the North West Hendricks School Corporation properly handles allegations of sexual harassment.

The United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights opened the Title IX investigation on Dec. 4, according to the agency’s website, for “sexual harassment” and “retaliation” within the school district.

Title IX is the 1972 federal civil rights law banning sexual discrimination in education, best known for breaking down barriers for women in sports.

Title IX also requires K-12 schools to address reports of sexual misconduct, a process that is completely separate from the criminal process.

The complaint also alleged North West Hendricks retaliated against people for reporting sexual harassment or objecting to the corporation’s responses to sexual harassment reports.

If a school district is found in violation of Title IX, typically the school reaches an agreement with the Office for Civil Rights in which they agree on ways to improve.

If schools do not comply with Title IX, they can risk losing federal funding.

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