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'Genuinely sorry': Ex Tri-West principal apologizes to former student over handling of allegations

Adam Benner's apology letter part of agreement
Benner.jpg
Posted at 4:02 PM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-05 20:50:32-04

HENDRICKS CO. — A former Tri-West High School principal says he is “genuinely sorry” for how he handled sexual misconduct allegations involving a former teacher and then 16-year-old student.

Adam Benner reached a one-year pre-trial diversion agreement in November 2020 in which he admitted to one misdemeanor count of Failure to Make a Report.

As part of that agreement, Benner wrote an apology letter to the victim in the case who, at the time of the offense, was a 16-year-old student, according to the agreement.

The former student is now 19-years old, and her mother, Stacy Lewis, received the apology letter on Thursday.

“I am writing to apologize for my role in the painful situation your family has gone through since the spring of 2019,” read the letter. “With the benefit of hindsight, I regret decisions that I made at the time as principal at Tri-West HS. I apologize for those decisions that contributed to suffering and heartache for (name omitted) and your family. I am genuinely sorry.”

Because Benner met the terms of the one-year pre-trial diversion agreement, on November 3, 2021, the court dismissed the Failure to Make Report charge.

Stacy Lewis told WRTV Investigates last year she hopes Benner uses the experience to better protect other students.

“Instead, use your time to teach another teacher, administrator – someone in another school system to prevent it from happening to someone else,” said Lewis in 2020. “That would be a real apology.”

Benner referenced Lewis’ request in his apology letter.

“Ms. Lewis mentioned in a past news article that a true apology would be to educate others to help keep a situation like this from happening to another child/family,” read the letter. “To this end, I have expressed to the Indiana (Department of Education) my willingness to help in this capacity at their request.”

Benner said he expects to help with programming once the pandemic becomes more manageable.

“I hope this demonstrates my sincerity and contriteness,” read the letter. “Again, I am sorry.”

The Indiana Department of Education has already taken action against Benner’s teaching license. his teaching license was suspended until February 28, 2021, and his administrator’s license is suspended until February 2022.

State records show Benner’s teaching license is currently expired.

WRTV Investigates has reached out to Benner’s attorney, James Bell, for comment and we are still waiting to hear back.

Stacy Lewis said her daughter is trying to be strong.

“It’s not something you can leave behind,” said Lewis. “It’s a permanent scar she will carry with her forever, but she is working through it.”

The charges against Benner stem from Tyler Bruce's case, a former Tri-West teacher and coach who was charged with child seduction.

Court records show despite Benner knowing of the allegations involving Bruce and a student, Benner did not make any contact with Bruce with regards to concerns about it.

Benner was made aware of the allegations in February 2019 after a report that Bruce and the student were working out alone together in the weight room, court documents show.

At a March 1, 2019 meeting, Benner told other administrators that any further information regarding Bruce and the student should be sent directly to him.

Benner resigned in June 2019 as the criminal investigation into Bruce was beginning.

Tyler Bruce pleaded guilty in May 2021 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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Two other Tri-West administrators, Stacey and Nathan Begle, were also criminally charged with Failure to Make a Report.

They signed a pretrial diversion agreement with Hendricks County prosecutors in July 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 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.

However, an apology letter was not part of the Begles agreement with prosecutors.

It’s not clear why.

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WRTV Investigates has reached out to the prosecutor’s office for comment and we are still waiting to hear back.

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