4-H cheating scandal in S.D. reaches appeals court

Farm Forum

MITCHELL – The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is weighing arguments in a lawsuit brought by the family of a teenager accused of cheating in a 4-H pig-showing competition in South Dakota.

The family of White Lake teenager Bayley Kroupa said she was humiliated and denied due process when she was banned from 4-H competition in 2011 for an alleged ethics violation. They are suing and seeking $850,000 in damages.

4-H officials have appealed a federal judge’s ruling last year that Bayley can participate in 4-H competitions while the lawsuit proceeds. Appeals court judges heard arguments in the case in St. Paul, Minn., on June 13 and will rule later, The Mitchell Daily Republic reported.

Bayley, then 16, was banned from 4-H competition in October 2011 for allegedly showing a pig at the 2011 South Dakota State Fair that she did not take care of during the project season and that had been previously entered in competition at the Missouri State Fair – a violation of the 4-H code of ethics.

Kroupa family attorney John Pekas told judges that grainy photographs are the only evidence that the South Dakota State Fair pig and the one shown in Missouri are the same animal because no DNA sampling was done. South Dakota 4-H officials have since implemented DNA sampling at competitions.

Pekas also said that barring Bayley from competition would deny her the opportunity to win cash prizes, which she has earned in the past, and that she has been denied her right to due process.

”When you are kicked out of school, medical school, athletic competition, there is a right to be heard,” he said. ”My client has not had that opportunity.”

4-H attorney Gary Thimsen said that although Bayley is banned from livestock competitions, she is still able to participate in other 4-H activities and her education has not been harmed.

”4-H is a lot broader than livestock exhibitions,” Thimsen said. ”She is still entitled to go to their meetings and participate in other activities.”