South Dakota 4-H cheating scandal subject of federal lawsuit
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- A 4-H club cheating scandal at last year's South Dakota State Fair involving the disputed ownership of a pig has sparked a federal lawsuit in which a White Lake family is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Greg Kroupa is suing the state 4-H office on behalf of his 16-year-old daughter, Bayley, who was permanently banned from competition last October after an ethics committee found she had "misrepresented the ownership" of her swine entry, according to the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/GJKJ9F).
The committee permanently disqualified Bayley, the last of four Kroupa siblings to participate in 4-H, and stripped her of prizes in both the swine and cattle categories. That means she cannot compete in national events -- which require that participants be in good standing with 4-H or FFA -- and puts her out of the running for hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential prize money, her father said.
Kroupa said the committee claimed the pig had been shown at another state's fair and that the finding was based on no more than a cellphone photograph.
He maintains that jealous competitors were looking for an excuse to take down the family, which has found success in state and national livestock shows. In 2007, his daughter Shelby took the Grand Champion Junior title at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, where her steer Maynard sold for a near-record $110,000.
"We have been made an example out of because of the level of competition that we have achieved," he said.
Peter A. Nielson, assistant director of 4-H youth development, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, said he cannot comment on the allegations. Gary Thimsen, a lawyer representing 4-H, declined immediate comment.
Nielson's disqualification letter asserted that Kroupa admitted his daughter did not own or care for her swine entry, according to the complaint. Kroupa said he merely admitted cheating was a problem at livestock competitions. He also maintains the family did not have the opportunity to appeal the ethics committee's decision.
The Kroupas are seeking $500,000 in punitive damages, $300,000 for the humiliation they say they have suffered and at least $50,000 for alleged civil rights violations. They also want a judge to allow Bayley to compete while the matter is being resolved.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com
Copyright 2012 The AP.