Federal prosecutor declines to say whether attorney under investigation

On the same day federal prosecutors reached a deferred prosecution agreement with Park Tudor School over its handling of an improper relationship between a coach and student, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Indianapolis declined to say whether the school’s outside counsel is under investigation.

Kyle Cox, former boys’ basketball coach, pleaded guilty to coercion and enticement in May and was sentenced to 14 years after sending sexually explicit messages and photos to the 15-year-old female student and trying to arrange for her to visit his home for sex.

In the deferred prosecution agreement, signed by U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler and Park Tudor board chairman Thomas Grein, authorities determined that Matthew Miller, the school’s head at the time, omitted key facts related to the sexually explicit communications between Cox and the girl and caused a materially false report on the relationship to be submitted to the Department of Child Services in December.

Miller committed suicide a few weeks after the report was made.

The criminal report against Cox said the Indianapolis school and school attorney, Ice Miller LLP partner Michael Blickman, impeded authorities after they launched their investigation of Cox’s relationship with the student in 2015.

In an interview with IBJ Tuesday, Minkler would not say whether Blickman was under investigation. But he said Miller and the outside counsel did not follow the law after the father of the girl on Dec. 14 showed them sexually explicit images contained on a laptop, then allowed them to keep it overnight to review the materials.

During that time, Blickman took the laptop to his law office and copied the materials onto a thumb drive. The laptop was returned to the father the next day.

“Clearly, when you take over possession of that, the only proper thing to do is turn that over to law enforcement,” Minkler said, noting that investigators ultimately had to get a search warrant to obtain the laptop.

“That is not the way it should happen,” Minkler said.

Blickman was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

In its statement, Park Tudor said: “Park Tudor’s response, through the actions of Matthew Miller and the school’s then-legal counsel, was inappropriate and not what we expect from our school. Nor is it what we will tolerate going forward.”

As part of the deferred prosecution agreement, which defers for two years the possibility of prosecution of the school for a misprision of a felony, the school retained retired 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Tinder to serve as an independent compliance monitor. The school has also trained staff in child-abuse prevention programs and revised policies and procedures.

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