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Serving a Search Warrant

Wednesday morning at the home of former Bishop Luers head football coach. Video by Swikar Patel.

Lindsay, the former Bishop Luers athletic director, leaves his home in the 2500 block of East Drive after the search of his home ended Wednesday morning.

Lindsay’s house searched; new information from diocese

Photos by Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Allen County Sheriff’s officers remove bags Wednesday from former Bishop Luers coach Matt Lindsay’s home as, from left, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mike McAlexander and Deputy Prosecutor Stacey Speith look on.

Arriving in unmarked vehicles and wearing gloves, Allen County Sheriff’s detectives spent two hours Wednesday morning searching inside the home of former Bishop Luers football coach Matt Lindsay.

Wednesday night, the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese broke a nearly weeklong silence to provide a few more details into Lindsay’s firing.

What detectives took from the one-story north-side home and what prompted them to serve a search warrant have not been made public.

Investigators left carrying armfuls of brown paper grocery sacks, manila folders and at least one cardboard box. A police investigation stemming from videos found on Lindsay’s work computer continues.

Present during the search were Michael McAlexander, chief deputy prosecutor for the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office, and Stacey Speith, a deputy prosecutor.

Lindsay, who coached at Luers in some capacity for 33 years and won nine state football titles as the school’s head coach, was not arrested and has not been charged with a crime.

He was fired Sept. 16 from his coaching and athletic director positions for having a large number of what the diocese deemed “inappropriate” videos on his computer.

In an email response to questions from The Journal Gazette, the diocese said Wednesday that “evidence of inappropriate images was obtained from two computers.”

The diocese’s statement, approved by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, also said that the images were inadvertently discovered by a school employee.

The videos were shown to the Luers principal and then legal counsel for the diocese, according to the statement, and an investigation uncovered more “images that were of concern.”

Specifics about those videos or images, initially discovered Sept. 12, have not been released. Diocesan officials said the videos they found contain no nudity but feature students and others who were recorded “surreptitiously.”

The diocese’s statement on Wednesday said some of the videos appeared to have been taken on school grounds. It is unknown what equipment was used to record the videos.

The diocese also provided its policy for employee computer use, which prohibits excessive use of diocesan equipment for personal work or communication or for ways to “harass, threaten or transmit inappropriate material.”

Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries said last week the videos his detectives had pored through up to that point were “unusual” but not illegal and were taken in public places like malls, at football games or swim meets.

In its statements to The Journal Gazette, the diocese explained why the sheriff’s department was called and not Fort Wayne Police.

“The School and Diocese have confidence in the integrity and competency of each police department,” according to the statement. A lawyer for the diocese chose to report the Lindsay matter to an Allen County Sheriff’s investigator because the lawyer had dealt with him on unrelated matters.

The lawyer called the investigator at about 5 p.m. Sept. 14, less than 48 hours after the videos were discovered. The office had closed, so the lawyer left a message. The lawyer made another call the following Monday, Sept. 17, according to the diocese, but the detective was off work.

The detective and the diocese finally made contact with each other on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

The diocese’s statement said a communication was sent to parents about Lindsay the day he was fired, coinciding with a statement sent to the media about his termination.

Lindsay was at home during the search of his house Wednesday morning.

Someone inside the house would occasionally peek through the blinds of a window and the flicker of a television screen could be seen from across the street.

Once police left the home in the 2500 block of East Drive, near North Anthony Boulevard and Crescent Avenue, Lindsay spoke briefly to a woman who came to his front door.

Afterward, he walked outside carrying a drink and wearing a University of Dayton baseball jacket, got into a red van and brushed away a television reporter who approached him for comment.

Then he drove off.

When asked why a search warrant was being served at the home more than a week after police were handed the videos on Lindsay’s computer, a spokesman for the Allen County Sheriff’s Department said he could not discuss specifics of the case.

He did say that investigations involving computers can be lengthy.

“Forensic investigations take time,” Cpl. Jeremy Tinkel said. “You just can’t go through and search for things and be done tomorrow.”

Last week, Fries told The Journal Gazette his department has the forensic capabilities to find things on computers that may be hidden or previously erased.

Controversy has swirled around Lindsay since he told media two weeks ago he was taking a leave of absence from his team for “personal reasons.”

Days later, Bishop Luers officials announced Lindsay was in fact on administrative leave during that time and then fired for violating school and diocesan policies.

Last week, a police report surfaced detailing a father’s complaint that Lindsay took cellphone photos of his daughter at a private pool in 2011.

Pool officials told police at the time they had received several complaints from parents through the years about Lindsay, with claims that he concealed cameras to take pictures or videos of those at the pool.

No charges were brought against Lindsay at the time, but after the police report surfaced, the diocese issued a statement about the videos officials found on his computer.

According to the diocese’s statement Wednesday night, the superintendent of schools and the Bishop Luers principal were aware of complaints about Lindsay taking photographs at a pool off school grounds late in the summer of 2011.

“The school officials talked to several persons involved, and confronted Mr. Lindsay with the complaints and he denied them,” the diocese said.

Since the announcement of his termination, Lindsay himself has offered only a few remarks via text or email.

And per Wednesday’s statement from the diocese, the school and diocese are now finished with a coach that more than two weeks ago was engrained in its steeped tradition.

“The school’s investigation ended with the termination of Mr. Lindsay’s employment at the school and the turning over of the materials to the police,” according to the statement. “The matter is now under police investigation.”

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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