TIPTON, Ind. (WISH) — Tipton school administrators were approached twice in the past year with concerns about a “too friendly” relationship between a teacher and a female student but chose not to contact authorities and instead investigated the matter internally, I-Team 8 has learned.
Now that teacher, Beau Engle, has been fired and is facing preliminary charges of child seduction. Court records show both he and the female student admitted to police to having a sexual relationship that went on unabated for more than year. The records also show the student sent nude photos of herself to Engle’s phone.
“When we do get reports we look into these reports. We look into them and take them very seriously. We do differentiate between rumors and fact,” Superintendent Kevin Emsweller told I-Team 8 during an interview Tuesday.
Superintendent Kevin Emsweller said that the district investigated Engle in January of 2016 after rumors surfaced that Engle and the student might be spending too much time together or have a “too friendly” relationship. Emsweller said at the time, the district found no wrongdoing.
But the scope of that investigation is unclear.
Emsweller told I-Team 8 that Engle was not asked directly if he was having sex with the student at the time. Police were not contacted, despite state law that includes a mandatory reporting requirement if there is reasonable suspicion that a child is being abused.
Instead, Engle was told to limit his contact with the student, but denied any misconduct.
Court records show the girl’s mother blocked Engle’s phone over concern he might be texting her too much.
Emsweller said the girl’s parents then approached the Tipton High School principal last fall with a request that their daughter be removed from Engle’s classroom.
Emsweller said the parent’s request was granted but that no further internal inquiry was conducted.
When asked directly, “Do you think it should have?”
Emsweller said: “Hindsight is 20/20 and I wasn’t privy to all the information back then that I am now.
“Police investigating felt we did what we were legally responsible for, and morally responsible for, acting on facts not rumors,” he said.
Tipton police have said the district acted appropriately. But a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Child Services told I-Team 8 in mid-April that the district should’ve notified authorities sooner.
I-Team 8 also asked Emsweller if he believed the district’s investigation fell short.
Emsweller said: “No. Hindsight is always 20/20… not to minimize the seriousness of this case but with the information we had at that time, we felt we made the correct decision.”
The school district fired Engle last week. Newly released court records show Engle and the student admitted to police that they had a sexual relationship that included dozens sexual encounters in his office at Tipton High School along with his Howard County home.
No one answered a door knock at a home listed in court records as being Engle’s address.
The prosecutor did not return calls seeking comment. His office staff said no formal charges will be filed until after a forensic examination can be done on both Engle’s and the student’s phones.
A no contact order between the girl and Engle has expired, according to online court records.