Iowa boarding school director sentenced to 9 years for abuse
KEOKUK, Iowa (AP) — A former Iowa boarding school director convicted of sexually and physically abusing students at the private school he once owned was sentenced to nine years in prison and will be required to register as a sex offender.
District Judge Mark Kruse sentenced Benjamin Trane, 40, on Thursday over his attorney’s objections that Trane did not get a fair trial, The Hawk Eye reported . A South Lee County jury convicted Trane in December of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of a child by a counselor and child endangerment.
Trane owned the Midwest Academy in Keokuk, a private, for-profit school that enrolled about 100 students from mostly well-off families across the United States. It closed in 2016 following a federal raid to investigate abuse allegations.
The prison sentence came after defense attorney Alfredo Parrish criticized the judge, the prosecutor and Trane’s trial attorney. He argued that the trial attorney, Lisa Schaefer, lacked experience in sex abuse cases and wasn’t adequately prepared. He also said Denise Timmins, an assistant Iowa attorney general, was slow to give the defense evidence needed to properly defend Trane.
Kruse disagreed with Parrish’s accusations of Schaefer’s handling of her trial preparation and courtroom decisions. Trane also repeatedly denied a suggestion to waive his right to a speedy trial to give the defense additional time to prepare, the judge noted.
“The court does not find there was any ineffective assistance of counsel,” he said. “I agree, she had little time to prepare her case.”
Given a chance to speak during the sentencing hearing, Trane maintained his innocence and said the false accusations have ruined his life.
Kruse said Trane’s comments “revictimized the victims” and contributed to his decision to run sentences for the convictions consecutively.
Parrish later filed an appeal with the Iowa Supreme Court asking it to overturn Trane’s convictions and give him a new trial. The high court will determine within the new few weeks whether to hear Trane’s appeal or send it to the state Court of Appeals for review.
This story has been corrected to reflect that the appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court was made after the sentencing.
Information from: The Hawk Eye, http://www.thehawkeye.com