INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- A federal judge sentenced former Park Tudor basketball coach Kyle Cox to 14 years in prison Friday.
Cox admitted to sending explicit photos to a 15 year old female student and trying to have sex with her, and also admitted to inappropriate relationships with other students. The three additional relationships were with teens ages 17, 18 and 18, prosecutors said.
Per the terms of a plea agreement in this case, federal prosecutors agreed to not ask for more than 14 years behind bars for Cox and the defense team agreed to not seek a sentence of less than ten years. In the end, the judge went to the maximum requested.
Court documents show that on at least two occasions Cox tried to coerce the victim into having sex. Investigators say the victim’s parents discovered the text messages before the two could meet up.
The 32-year-old, who also taught chemistry at Park Tudor, resigned from the school in December after signing a confidentiality agreement.
U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said he was pleased with the sentenced that was given. "Mr. Cox held a position of trust and authority over our young victim. He gradually groomed her over time to trust him and then exploited her for his own sexual gratification. Protecting our youth from predators is a priority and a responsibility we hold in high regard. Schools should be places of safety for children where they can grow, learn, and make mistakes without falling prey to teachers or coaches who turn their innocence into illegal sexual opportunity. "
Questions were raised during the investigation about whether the school violated state law by not immediately reporting the suspected abuse to the Department of Child Services.
Cox has been in federal custody since February.
The parents of the victim issued this statement:
We are relived 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.
Peter Kraft, Interim Head of School for Park Tudor, sent this letter to 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.