Family claims Tri-West coach repeatedly molested their daughter

Tri-West High School (WTHR)

LIZTON, Ind. (WTHR) – The parents of a 17-year-old girl say that Tri-West High School varsity football coach and math teacher Tyler Bruce committed multiple incidents of child molestation and abuse against their daughter.

The accusations are detailed in a tort claim served to the North West Hendricks School Corporation this week.

The law firm of Wagner Reese in Carmel is representing Mark and Stacey Lewis and their daughter.

"My client's goal is to make the school safe," said Jeff Gibson, the Lewis family's attorney. "So, number one is making my client's senior year safe, and for her three sisters that are in that school system, safe - safety for them and for every other girl that's going to that school."

The Lewis family says that their daughter, a junior at the time, served as an aide to Bruce and worked out with him in the weight room at the high school during the 2019 spring semester. According to the tort claim, Bruce asked the girl for pictures of "her curves" and threatened her math grade if she did not comply.

The tort claim also says on multiple occasions, Bruce lifted up the back of the girl's shirt and stuck his hand or hands up the back of her shirt or dress. One on occasion, Bruce allegedly put his hand up the girl's dress across the front of her pubic area.

The tort claim accuses Bruce of "routinely trying to get the girl to take off her clothes for him." He also allegedly tried to get the girl to come over to his house on her 17th birthday while his wife was out of town.

Bruce's attorney, Josh Adair, provided a statement Thursday:

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

The Hendricks County Sheriff's Office says it began an investigation after receiving an anonymous tip May 12. The tort claim says the investigation began after a school resource officer reported inappropriate interaction between Bruce and the girl. But the tort claim also says Tri-West High School received an anonymous call in March about Bruce and the girl working out alone.

"When an initial complaint comes in in March of this year, no action is taken, and what my client had to endure for the next three months - so it's not just Mr. Bruce," said Gibson. the Lewis family attorney. "He's a symptom of the bigger problem."

A June 7 statement from the sheriff's office said in part:

"We are investigating to see if any of the allegations rise to the level of criminal activity...we have been working alongside our partners at the Department of Child Services and the North West Hendricks School Corporation to determine the facts in the case."

The Sheriff's Office said Thursday its investigation is still ongoing. Bruce has not been charged with any crimes.

Bruce has coached the Tri-West Bruins for the past two seasons. He is on paid administrative leave. The school board voted 4-0 on July 29th to reject the administration's recommendation to terminate his contract.

The tort claim says the incidents have thrown the girl's life into "chaos" and "she is suffering emotional distress and trauma resulting from Mr. Brace's actions and the school's failure to protect her. Further, she continues to endure harassment from other students and teachers."

Gibson says that Tri-West principal Adam Benner resigned rather than answer questions from the school attorney. Athletic Director Nathan Begle and Dean of Students Stacey Begle are on paid administrative leave in the wake of the investigation.