The head gymnastics coach from Park High School in Cottage Grove, Minn. was cited last week for repeatedly tattooing a 15-year-old girl without parental consent.
Terry Robert Hardy, 37, of Hastings, Minn., allegedly first tattooed the girl in the summer and as recently as September. Her father reported the tattooing to Hastings police on Dec. 3, and Hardy was issued a citation for two misdemeanor counts of assault.
Under Minnesota law at the time of the incident, written permission from both parents was required before a tattoo could be applied to a minor. That law was repealed on Aug. 1. Currently, no person under 18 can legally get a tattoo in Minnesota, even with parental consent.
Yet, even before the law changed, the state of Minnesota struggled with enforcement. The Fox 9 Investigators looked into the problem of unlicensed, in-home tattooing in the state, and found many Minnesotans do put themselves at risk by opting for unlicensed artists who offer lower prices over professionals who adhere to health regulations.
COACH ON LEAVE
Hardy was placed on leave when the school district learned of the incident. Parents of some Park High School gymnasts told Fox 9 they learned of the tattoo incident at the team's Thursday, Dec. 5 meet.
SCHOOL DISTRICT STATEMENT
Barbara Brown, South Washington County Schools director of communications, released the following statement Monday:
"Allegations have been made against Park High School Gymnastics Head Coach Terry Hardy. Upon learning of the allegations, he was placed on paid administrative leave by the district. He is on administrative leave pending further investigation as the head coach of Park High School gymnastics, but has been dismissed as a gymnastics coordinator for District 833s community education program."
TEEN SAYS COACH ALSO PIERCED HER TONGUE
Now 16, Abby Rasmussen told Fox 9 News Hardy tattooed the cross on her neck, the word "strength" on her wrist and her favorite song lyrics across her shoulder.
"He charged me $40 for that, and he pierced my tongue too, but I took it out," Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen has never been on the team, but she said she started going to Hardy's home in Hastings to get the tattoos with a senior gymnast who has since graduated.
"While he was tattooing me, he asked, 'Is your dad going to be mad?'" Hardy recalled. "In the middle of a tattoo, it's kind of a dumb question."
Rasmussen said multiple students -- and Hardy himself -- told her he had a license, but police say that's not the case.
Although Rasmussen successfully hid the tattoos from her father for months, some infighting within the gymnastics team culminated in some high school drama. Another girl's car got egged, and Rasmussen was charged with property damage. That's when Rasmussen found out about the tattoos -- after he saw Hardy was texting his daughter.
"This is to stop him from tattooing people," Curt Rasmussen said. "I'm not happy she has tattoos. That, and why is he bringing 15-year-old girls to his house? That's just not right behavior."
Yet, the response on social media makes it clear that Hardy has plenty of support from parents, students and his team. Meanwhile, Rasmussen wishes a quick decision wouldn't be so permanent.
"I should not have went and got them at 15, and now -- looking back -- it doesn't seem right at all," she said through tears. "I'm not trying to take their coach away. I'm not saying he's fully at blame. It was my decision too."
HARDY: 'EVERYTHING WILL COME OUT IN COURT'
Fox 9 News contacted Hardy for comment on this story, but all he would say is that everything will come out in court and he is confident his name will be cleared.