Tri-West High School teacher and head football coach Tyler Bruce has been arrested on preliminary charges of child seduction and obstruction of justice. Bruce has been accused of engaging in sexual misconduct involving a student.
The Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office started investigating Bruce in May 2019 after the office received an anonymous tip regarding alleged sexual misconduct involving a student. In July, the North West Hendricks School Corporation school board voted 5-0 to place him on paid administrative leave.
The state of Indiana is also looking to revoke Bruce’s teaching license.
The girl’s parents, Stacy and Mark Lewis, filed a tort claim against the North West Hendricks County School Corporation in August. They allege that the school district failed to protect their daughter from Bruce.
According to the claim, suspicions of potential sexual misconduct by Bruce were first reported to the district in March 2019 via an anonymous call. The caller reported seeing Bruce working out alone with the girl, but no action was taken until May when a school resource officer saw what he thought to be an inappropriate interaction between Bruce and the student.
Attorney Jeff Gibson of the law firm Wagner Reese is representing the Lewises. They believe the school should have taken action in March after the first complaint was reported. According to Gibson, the district was negligent in its failure to safeguard its students.
The federal government is also conducting a Title IX investigation to determine if the North West Hendricks School Corporation has failed to properly handle sexual harassment allegations.
Attorney contributor Jeff Gibson is an experienced school sexual abuse lawyer who is representing the victim in this case and her parents. We’ve asked Jeff to weigh in with some thoughts on the legal rights of teacher sexual misconduct victims and their families:
School districts have a legal and moral obligation to make sure their students are safe. Unfortunately, protections against sexual abuse must be a key aspect of any school’s safety plan, as sexual predators are often found working in education. When a student becomes a victim of sexual harassment or abuse by a teacher, it’s important to determine if the school met their legal duty to safeguard their students.
Some cases of sexual misconduct involving teachers are preventable and only happen because of negligence by school officials. For example, a school might be considered negligent if they had ignored previous complaints about inappropriate behavior by a teacher and that teacher was later arrested for sexual misconduct involving a student.
When negligence contributes to sexual harassment or abuse of a student, the victim and their family may have grounds for a lawsuit against the district.
If you or your child is a survivor of sexual abuse or harassment by a teacher, you can learn more about your legal rights in a free consultation with one of our experienced sex abuse victims lawyers.