Kyle Cox sentenced to 14 years in student sexting case

Kyle Cox (WTHR file photo)
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Kyle Cox, the former Park Tudor basketball coach caught in an inappropriate relationship with a student, has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Cox pleaded guilty after prosecutors say he exchanged explicit photos with a student and was making plans to have sex with her.

The judge went with the prosecutor's request for 14 years, and 15 years of supervised release.

Prosecutors believe Cox was just five days away from bringing his 15-year-old victim to his home for sex while his wife and children, including a newborn baby, were out of town.

She texted the coach, "but you have to be gentle and not just drop me."

That's when the girl's father put a stop to the relationship.

"It is a stiff and appropriate sentence. It is an appropriate sentence because over a pattern of time he was given a position of trust, a position of authority over numerous children - in this case a 15-year-old child. He chose to abuse the trust," said US attorney Josh Minkler.

It was also revealed in court today Kyle Cox admitted to sexual relationships with a 17- and 18-year-old student as well.

"I'll call Mr. Cox what he is and what he was called in court today. He's a predator, he's a wolf and dangerous to children," said Minkler.

The judge said Cox accepted responsibility for his actions, but painted a disturbing picture of the crime. The judge said Cox used his motivational skills learned from coaching against the teenage girl, who made comments to Cox including, "I'm still a baby" and "I have a young mind."

Cox told the judge he is a "flawed human being" and "wished this had never happened."

"He chose to abuse his trust and authority over a period of time, grooming her for his own sexual gratification. So this sentence is necessarily stiff," Minkler said.

Legal analyst Jack Crawford, a prosecutor-turned defense lawyer, said, "Be it Jared Fogle, a millionaire, or a prestigious basketball coach at a great school, no matter who you are, if you take liberties with young people, you're going to pay a very heavy penalty. And I think that was the message of today and other federal prosecution is in this area."

The victim's family's attorney, Stephen Wagner, pointed to what he called "several shocking and disturbing facts," referencing that Cox specifically targeted the 15-year-old victim and that it was not the first time he'd targeted female students. Wagner says Cox had at least three inappropriate sexual relationships with Park Tudor students. Wagner says that "raises serious questions about student safety and Park Tudor's director and administrators who are ultimately accountable."

The victim's family also released a statement after sentencing:

"We are relieved that Kyle Cox will not have the opportunity to victimize anyone else's daughter for years to come. This ordeal has been a very trying time for our entire family. More than anything, we hope and pray our daughter can get back to living the normal life of a teenager and that her future is not forever damaged. We hope and pray our family life will get back to normal as well. Unfortunately, we expect it will take some time for this to occur. Finally, we would like to thank the law enforcement officials and prosecutors who worked so hard to put Kyle Cox behind bars."

The case sent shockwaves through the Park Tudor community. Cox was a popular coach and ultimately had 47 letters of support in court files.

Minkler said "Park Tudor has been very cooperative with the government, but early in the case, investigators were critical of the school for letting possible evidence leave campus (Cox took his computer home) and not reporting the sexting allegations immediately. Asked about possible charges against Park Tudor, Minkler said, "we'll save that for another day."

The attorney said the school has "certainly taken an awful lot of steps to change the pattern and practices at Park Tudor. We're going to take all of that into consideration and decide what needs to be done with Park Tudor."

Park Tudor letter to parents

Park Tudor School sent out the following letter to parents Friday in response to the sentencing.

Dear Members of the Park Tudor Community,

This afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Larry McKinney sentenced former Park Tudor basketball coach Kyle Cox to fourteen years in prison.

During the sentencing hearing, Mr. Cox admitted to additional inappropriate relationships with other Park Tudor students during his time at the school. This is troubling, and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this situation.

However, Park Tudor's commitment to our students and our community is unchanged: we continue to reexamine and strengthen our policies, procedures, training, and monitoring to ensure that all students on our campus are safe.

I want to take a moment to let you know the steps we have taken over the past five months as a school. Upon the arrest of Mr. Cox in early February 2016, Park Tudor immediately began full cooperation with the U.S. Attorney's Office and all state investigative and law enforcement agencies. As a critical part of that cooperation, Park Tudor engaged John Daniel Tinder to serve as Park Tudor's Independent Compliance Monitor to oversee Park Tudor's comprehensive review of its policies and procedures. Judge Tinder previously served as Chief Trial Deputy in the Marion County Prosecutor's Office, as United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, and then as a federal trial and appellate judge for over 28 years before retiring from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in October of 2015. Park Tudor's engagement of Judge Tinder was voluntary, and was undertaken in an effort to immediately and thoroughly examine Park Tudor's policies, procedures and practices and address shortcomings.

Over the past five months, I, along with the Board of Directors, a Board subcommittee, and the school's Policies and Procedures Committee, have worked closely with Judge Tinder to develop new employee and student anti-harassment and digital communication policies. We have also strengthened and clarified the guidelines for child abuse reporting for all Park Tudor employees. These new policies are included in our revised Employee Handbook, as well as the new Student/Parent Handbook that is available to all current families' My Backpack accounts. We encourage all current parents and students to familiarize themselves with these new policies.

In addition, in April, Prevent Child Abuse Indiana (PCAI) conducted in-person training for the Park Tudor faculty and staff, utilizing Darkness to Light's "Stewards of Children" module. Training updates will be provided on at least an annual basis, and all new faculty and staff will receive the same training this August. In addition, Upper School students received child abuse prevention training in February 2016, and similar, age-appropriate training is scheduled for Park Tudor's kindergarten through eighth grade students during the fall semester.

As we begin the new school year, we are also exploring educational programs for parents focused on safety and child abuse prevention. In addition, we have designated a compliance position at the school, which will include working with the Head of School to administer and oversee Park Tudor's child abuse/neglect safety compliance, training, reporting, and investigations.

Judge Tinder has overseen all of these initiatives, and we have engaged him to continue to serve as Independent Compliance Monitor for at least the next two years. Judge Tinder has remarked that he "will continue to oversee Park Tudor's efforts to review and revise policies and procedures, administer appropriate and periodic training, and ensure that Park Tudor adheres to its commitment to child safety."

As monitor, Judge Tinder has provided periodic updates to both the Park Tudor Board and the U.S. Attorney's Office. In a recent report, Judge Tinder stated that over the five month period that he has been acting as compliance monitor, "the Park Tudor community has developed a greatly enhanced understanding of the importance of child abuse/neglect prevention, detection, and reporting." He also indicated that the steps already taken by Park Tudor "demonstrate that progress will continue."

If you have questions concerning the review and revisions of Park Tudor's polices and training, Judge Tinder can be contacted at (317) 341-0050 or at compliance@parktudor.org.

I know that many in our community are anxious to learn the result of the independent investigation conducted by Larry Mackey and the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg. Regrettably, ongoing legal proceedings from the Cox matter will delay the release of the summary of this investigation. We respectfully ask for your patience and will communicate those findings at an appropriate future date.

While we are deeply saddened by the situation, we are looking forward to the start of the 2016-2017 school year and remain confident that Park Tudor will continue to provide an extraordinary education for our students.

Sincerely,
Peter Kraft
Peter A. Kraft
Interim Head of School
317/415-2707 office
pkraft@parktudor.org
Park Tudor School
Exceptional Educators. Extraordinary Opportunities.

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