Iowa teen’s lawsuit against football coach alleges team bullying caused brain damage

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally
Bedford Iowa football player Kacey Strough —
Bedford Iowa football player Kacey Strough —

In November, Prep Rally brought you the story of Bedford (Ia.) High freshman Kacey Strough, who had to undergo dramatic surgery to try and save him from a blod clot near his brain stem. At the time, Strough’s family claimed that his injuries were the result of in-team bullying by members of the Bedford football program, a charge that the school has denied.

Now the Strough family is taking that case to court. According to the Associated Press, Strough filed suit in federal court against his former football coach, a handful of Bedford High administrators and the Bedford school district, claiming that their negligence to the teen’s complaints about bullying led to his serious brain injuries that have left him permanently disabled.

"He is, we believe, clearly going to suffer the long-term effects of what is a serious traumatic brain injury from this," Strough’s lawyer, Thomas Slater told the AP.

If the details in Strough’s case are to be believed, the teen may have a pretty strong legal argument. The football player reportedly went to administrators multiple times to complain about bullying, only to be told, “that they would look into the allegation or directed [him] to tell another teacher or coach or that they didn't want to be bothered and walk away."

That negligence was made worse by the actions of Strough’s coach, Robert McCoy, who ignored Strough’s complaints related to two teammates throwing footballs directly at his head from as close as 6 feet away. The football headshots came while Strough was waiting to enter the field and had his back turned to the teammates.

While McCoy told the teen that he would look into the pelting, he also insisted that the two teammates who hit Strough didn’t mean any harm. Regardless of intent, Strough was checked into the hospital just eight days later with the first stages of serious brain conditions that eventually led to the significantly diminished life he is left to lead today.

Whether a judge and jury agree with the causality that the Strough family is alleging remains to be seen. Regardless of that outcome, the general relaxed reaction of the Iowa school’s senior officials should serve as an important and powerful lesson for all schools to take teen bullying much more seriously.

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