HENDRICKS COUNTY, Ind. (WTHR) - A Hendricks County coach and teacher has been arrested for child seduction.
Tyler Bruce, a football coach and math teacher at Tri-West High School in Lizton, was arrested Tuesday night for child seduction and obstruction of justice, both felonies. He was released from the Hendricks County Jail after posting a $500 bond.
Bruce had been under investigation by the Hendricks County Sheriff's Office since last May when police received an anonymous tip. A school resource officer had also reported an inappropriate interaction between Bruce and a 17-year-old girl.
The sheriff's office worked with the North West Hendricks School Corporation and the Department of Child Services in their investigation.
The student's parents filed a tort claim against the school district in August. Mark and Stacey Lewis said their daughter, then a junior at the school, was aide for Bruce and worked out with him in the high school's weight room during the spring of 2019.
The tort claim accuses Bruce of "routinely trying to get the girl to take off her clothes for him." He also allegedly threatened the girl's math grade if she did not send him pictures of "her curves" and had, on multiple occasions, lifted up the back of the girl's shirt and stuck his hand or hands up the back of her shirt or dress.
At the time, Bruce denied the allegations through his attorney, who said they "do not intend to try this case in the court of public opinion."
Tuesday evening, the family issued a statement about Bruce's arrest.
We are encouraged that law enforcement along with the Hendricks County Prosecutor’s office are taking the necessary steps to hold Mr. Bruce accountable for his actions. As parents of students that attended Northwest Hendricks County School our number one concern is the safety of all students. Unfortunately, these criminal charges and the current federal investigation show the school system has a long way to go. We are hopeful that this is a first step in the right direction.
The teen victim has three sisters who attend school in the district.
Bruce, the varsity football coach and a math teacher at the high school, was placed on administrative leave during the investigation, but the school board voted 4-0 in late July not to fire him.
Superintendent Michael Springer resigned over disagreements with the board after he recommended Bruce's termination. Parents and others in the community said in October that Springer was forced out of his job.
Late Wednesday the school district announced it was changing Bruce's leave to an unpaid suspension. The district also said it was moving to cancel his contract and terminate his employment after seeing evidence that was "previously unavailable and inaccessible to the board."
The district's statement also read in part:
This has created great division in our small community and the school board joins the community in its desire for a swift resolution to this matter. In the meantime, the board and administration are committed to restoring trust, aggressively reviewing policies and procedures and seeking remedies to bring harmony back to our community.
Former principal also charged
Former Tri-West High School principal Adam Benner has now been charged with failure to make a report.
According to court documents, Benner knew about the alleged inappropriate behavior involving Bruce as early as Feb. 21, 2019.
Those court documents show Benner looked into it but never reported it. He also requested that any further information should be brought directly to him.
The documents allege Benner told Bruce not to workout with the alleged victim alone, but there was never anything formal filed.