Friday, February 05, 2016

Star Report: Ice Miller Attorney Could Face Criminal Charges Over Handling Of Park Tudor Child Abuse Case

The Indianapolis Star to my surprise took direct aim at the venerable Ice Miller law firm and its high-profile labor and employment law partner for possibly breaking state law by not immediately reporting a crime he knew had happened the day he met with the father of the 15-year old victim of the school's fired boys basketball coach with the headmaster of the elite Park Tudor private school and received evidence the former basketball coach and student had exchanged sexually explicit images of themselves.

In a federal complaint filed in the U.S. district court in the Southern District of Indiana, law enforcement investigating the case were clearly perturbed to learn that Michael Blickman, the school's attorney from Ice Miller, and the headmaster, the late Dr. Matthew Miller, had known about the sexually explicit images for three weeks prior to their execution of a search warrant on the north side school's campus but had failed to report the definitive evidence they took into their possession from the victim's father on December 14, 2015. Blickman even took the victim's computer back to his office and downloaded images from it to the firm's computer system. Compounding the problem, school officials gave Cox permission to take his laptop computer home with him after he was fired and given 24 hours to remove anything "personal" from it before returning it to the school.

When initially asked by investigators looking into the report made by the school to the Department of Child Services, Blickman had claimed any evidence he had obtained or discussed with the fired former basketball coach was privileged information protected by the attorney-client privilege. It wasn't until after a team of federal, state and local law enforcement officials executed a search warrant on January 4, 2016 that Blickman came to the school, told police about the images he had copied to a computer at his law firm and then turned over that evidence to police, nearly three weeks after first receiving the evidence from the victim's father.

The Star draws attention to a recent Indiana Supreme Court decision where a Muncie school official was found to be criminally liable for failure to report suspected child abuse--in that case a rape--for a period of four hours after the school's principal first knew the crime had occurred. A criminal lawyer, Jack Crawford, explained the legal liability Blickman could face:
One legal expert said Blickman could be at risk of facing criminal charges. Federal court records indicate Blickman made copies of the explicit messages and images, including at least one explicit photo of the girl, and kept them at his office.
“This gets really dicey,” Indianapolis attorney Jack Crawford said. “That’s child pornography. You cannot possess it even if it’s for a legal purpose.”
Crawford told IndyStar that he cannot get copies of photos when he is representing a client in a child pornography case. He said he has to go to the U.S. attorney's office to look at them.
Tim Horty, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said the Park Tudor case remains under investigation. He said more people could be charged if detectives find enough evidence . . .
Court records show Park Tudor officials also allowed Cox to take a school computer home on Dec. 15 to remove "personal" content.
When police started to investigate the allegations against Cox, Blickman told them he would not offer any information because his conversations with school officials were “privileged communications,” court documents state. Blickman said he believed Park Tudor officials had done everything that they needed to do.
The Star says there is also an issue of how DCS responded to the original report given to them by the school on December 15. According to their sources, DCS did not immediately initiate an investigation upon receiving the report from Park Tudor. The initial report made by the school, however, downplayed what had transpired.  It indicated Cox had sent  messages to a 15-year old student that was "suggestive and not appropriate for an adult teacher to send to a student." The school omitted the fact it knew Cox had sent pictures of his penis to the girl and she had shared nude sexual images of herself with him. It wasn't until after an outside counselor for the school sent a report to the state on December 22 that DCS initiated its investigation.

It would surprise me if Blickman actually faced any legal consequences as a result of his actions. The most immediate consequence to Ice Miller and Blickman has been the loss of a client. According to The Star, the school is now being represented by Barnes & Thornburg and Frost Brown Todd. There is also the tragedy of Dr. Matthew Miller taking his life two weeks ago. School officials claimed at the time his suicide had nothing to do with the ongoing investigation. This week's events cast serious doubt on that conclusion. The sad thing is that Dr. Miller trusted the advice he was given by his attorney, which in this case, created a major problem for the school that could have been easily nipped in the bud had the right thing been done on December 14 when school officials first learned what their misbehaving basketball coach had done to one of their students.

Here's a copy of the Complaint against Cox filed in federal district court for the Southern District of Indiana.


Anonymous said...

Another great report Gary. Why in the hell those involved did not immediately take this to law enforcement upon first learning what transpired is simply incredible.

Flogger said...

I am rather surprised the father of the victim did not go to the Police first. It seems obvious the people who should have had as the prime goal the protection of child, had the goal of protecting the school.

Anonymous said...

It's apparent Blickman isn't a very good lawyer if he isn't aware of the law with respect to having possession of child pornography. It's also obvious Ice Miller is no longer qualified to conduct any legal business awarded to the law firm by government interests. If they cannot handle this situation in a lawful and competent manner, I can only wonder how many other things they have mishandled.

Ice Miller--via Blickman--has gone far beyond the legal boundaries in support of a child pornographer,therefore, they are tainted and should never receive any government contracts. If any politico wishes to do any more taxpayer funded business with the firm, that politician should be tainted as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jack Crawford. Possession of child porn is illegal per se. No attorney can say, "Give me the child porn and let me hold on to it" as "attorney-client privilege." There is NO privilege for an attorney to possess contraband. If the attorney copied it, then he is also guilty of a crime. If he took possession of it, he is guilty of a crime.

Just what would he do with it?

I believe the attorney is guilty of a crime. I believe that both the attorney and law firm have violated the Code of Professional Conduct and self-reporting of that violation is mandated.

Anonymous said...

What a surprise that an attorney (Gary Welsh excepted) may have broken the law. What a surprise that the wagons will be circled to protect and deflect charges? What a surprise that we little people would be in leg irons in a similar situation but an attorney and his firm may receive only a wrist tap when all is said and done?

Is it any wonder "we the little people" hold the "legal" profession (again, Welsh excepted) in such dismally low esteem? Whether is is run-amok, loud-mouth Greg Garrison types or an Ice Miller attorney like Blickman... the public again sees poor poster persons for any profession claiming to uphold "the law". I want to know why the heck we taxpayers are forced to adhere to laws (and muni codes) which attorneys, mayors, councilors, and prosecutors will not honor.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe a damn thing School officials say, like, school officials say the death of Dr. Miller didn't have anything to do with the investigation, do they think were stupid?
I wonder if those same school officials will be indicted for various crimes against society.
I've dealt with school officials in the past, they have a greater than thou attitude, and their smarter than everyone else, looks lite Park Tudor needs to clean house and start fresh if they want to maintain any credibility as a learning institute.

Anonymous said...

God bless the detective that was assigned the original report. Job well done!

Anonymous said...

we already know how this will end at least for ice miller; blickman will be the fall guy as he should be but will be praised for his 'contribution' to 'the community' who had one minor lapse in judgment; meanwhile, the 'little' people are one step closer to pitchforks in the streets in this F'd up little redneck town . . . I hope we storm the law firms and the banks first . . .

Anonymous said...

Could the parent have been assured that law enforcement wouldn't have swept it under the rug? Maybe that's why he went to the school. In this case, law enforcement appeared to do the right thing, and the school didn't. But it easily could have been the other way around. The investigator could have been 'encouraged' not to properly investigate. Do you have to do both, simultaneously? Who knows who you can trust when you're blowing a whistle on powerful people.

Anonymous said...

This cover up was done with the full knowledge and complicity of both the Board of Directors and the Trustees of Park Tudor. The Board of Directors of Park Tudor is stacked with executives from both Eli Lilly and Cummins. The Trustees take the word elitism too a new level.
They thought they could bury this whole sordid mess and given the power and money involved I'm amazed that the investigation ever saw the light of day.
The Feds must be commended for the job that they have done. Time will tell just how deep the cover up went and the who the leaders were of said cover up.

Anonymous said...

What else do Cummins and Lilly conspire about? The conflation of "legal" with "ethical or moral" leads to lawyers being suspected as the locus of most "white collar" crimes. Amoral Indiana corporations often seem to be in bed with amoral lawyers. What are the prospects that Lying Joe will eschew the looting?

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing... it appears that Ice Miller, Park Tudor, all the "responsible adults" chose to cover their backsides rather than protect a 15 year old girl. If that's the case, it's deplorable. I hope karma finds every last one of them.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the American Crime show ( can either add this to their existing Indianapolis-centered Season Two or add a few more new seasons, what with this and Jared, they have all the material they need.

Anonymous said...

Instead of Ice Miller they would have been money ahead to Just Call Sal.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like DCS is screwed up as well. A 310 report was filed to DCS on Dec. 15. However, DCS did nothing with the case till January 4th??? Why the delay??
As for sexual assaults at high schools, keep digging and you will find more. Many more. These type of assaults are covered up by both Public School Police (public schools) and by school "security" for private schools fairly regularly. Schools often report on the behalf of the victim as a assault, harassment or intimidation report as to not to raise suspicion as opposed to sexual assault/rape. Go grab the addresses of a few larger or prominent schools around the state and obtain police reports based on these addresses. You would be suprised. And this is not Rolling Stone crap either.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The key is what was communicated to DCS in the 310 report. The criminal complaint gave the impression Cox had just said some inappropriate things in text messages to the student. It omitted the relevant information about the exchange of nude images and the planning of a sexual encounter. I'm not going to fault DCS for not acting more quickly if the school misled them as to the actual wrongdoing

Anonymous said...

We can fault DCS for failing to out a certain sitting city councilor...

Anonymous said...

I am baffled by this whole situation…..the school has a Board, Trustees, and Alumni made up of some of the most wealthy and powerful people in town, the resources to supplement all that with the best legal representation you can buy, and this is the path (assuming the decision to try and cover this situation up was not made in a vacuum with only the Headmaster, PT Attorney and the father involved) to resolving this serious issue they elected follow.

If what we are learning is true, I agree with the earlier post that it is time to clean house at PT and bring in a new batch of leaders that possess the morals, ethics, and a lot of common sense to right this ship and get the focus back on protecting, educating, and preparing students for their futures.

During/after the initial meeting with the Headmaster/PT Attorney/Father where the evidence was provided, were the decision maker’s egos so big and out of check that they really thought they could let the coach resign and sign an NDA, provide him his computer to take “personal files” off (aka try to destroy evidence), carefully craft the required 310 report to the state to try and keep the actual improprieties under the radar, that they thought this would just go away? Having money, power, and influence, as this whole mess makes pretty clear, does not automatically come with the ability to recognize the bright line between right and wrong

If the decision makers would have done the “right thing” rather than what we are seeing unfold now as their chosen plan “A” of trying to sweep this under the carpet, all of the “Spotlight” (sound familiar? Catholic Church cover-up) would be on prosecuting the scumbag coach and helping the victim on her road to recovery. But now we have a suicide, destroyed families, tainted school reputation, prominent pillars of the community, ethically challenged lawyers, and many other in the PT community likely dealing with the fall-out for years to come.

My biggest question to those decision makers (School Board, Board of Trustees, School Administrators, legal representation) is did you ever consider what I’d call “Plan B” below during/after the meeting when the father made the allegation and provided the evidence:

1. Make sure the victim is getting the assistance needed and is not in any immediate danger

2. Immediately call the authorities (DCS, IMPD) and report the allegations and provide the evidence, let the authorities direct the investigation from that point forward. They should be the one’s in control in this situation.

3. Immediately file a complete and accurate 310 Report to the State as is required.

4. Immediately terminate the scumbag Coach for cause (I am still dumbfounded that they let this guy Resign in exchange for signing an NDA and if this didn’t blow up, set him up to be able to move on to another school where the behavior would likely continue and put more innocent child at risk)

5. Begin the healing process

It sure seems like “Plan B” or something close to it would have been the obvious choice. Sure PT would have a black eye to deal with caused by what I hope is a lone wolf offender (the scumbag Coach) but anyone can make a bad decision when hiring an employee especially with no prior history of the behavior. Or maybe he did have a history that got covered up by a previous school. But for PT to let him resign under an NDA, gave him 24 hours to try and wipe his school owned computer clean and set him up to be able to move on to anther school with a clean record other than a sudden resignation at PT to explain away is so far from the right thing to do that it is inexcusable under any/all circumstances. Shame on all of the decisions makers and advisors involved if what we are reading is even remotely accurate. All of your Money, Power, and Influence are going to be needed to avoid the bad Karma likely coming your way for not doing the right thing and apparently going to great lengths to cover this up.