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Midwest Academy

Jason Parrott / TSPR

A judge sentenced Ben Trane to the maximum penalty possible for the crimes he was convicted of committing while in charge of Midwest Academy, a now-shuttered Lee County-based boarding school for troubled teens.

Ben Trane is asking the court to grant him a new criminal trial. Trane was convicted last December of child endangerment, sexual exploitation by a counselor, and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse.  Prosecutors said he committed the crimes during his time in charge of Midwest Academy, which was a Lee County-based boarding school for troubled teens.

John Lovretta / Burlington Hawkeye

The former owner of Midwest Academy will be sentenced on May 10. Ben Trane was convicted in December of child endangerment, sexual exploitation by a counselor, and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse.

John Lovretta / Burlington Hawkeye

The prosecution and defense are now asking the court to set a new date for the sentencing of Ben Trane. Trane was convicted last month of child endangerment, assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist during his time as owner and operator of Midwest Academy.

John Lovretta / Burlington Hawkeye

Ben Trane was found guilty Friday morning of child endangerment, sexual exploitation of a child by a counselor, and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. He is the former owner of Midwest Academy, a boarding school for troubled teens that was located near Keokuk.  He will be sentenced in about eight weeks.

Jury deliberations will resume Friday morning in the criminal trial of Ben Trane. He is the former owner of Midwest Academy, a shuttered boarding school in Lee County for troubled teens, who is charged with sexual abuse and child endangerment.

John Lovretta / Burlington Hawkeye

Ben Trane testified for nearly 3 ½ hours Wednesday afternoon in his criminal trial in Keokuk. He’s accused of sexual abuse and child endangerment during his time as owner of Midwest Academy, a shuttered boarding school for troubled teens in Lee County.

John Lovretta / Burlington Hawkeye

The sexual abuse and child endangerment trial of Ben Trane enters its 6th day Tuesday in the south Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk. Jurors heard from seven witnesses Monday, including state employees and law enforcement agents who investigated Midwest Academy.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

Denise Timmins sat up from her chair and walked in front of the newly seated jury at about 3:00 p.m. Wednesday in the south Lee County Courthouse's district courtroom. She proceeded to read the criminal charges against Ben Trane and then begin her opening statement.

The criminal trial of Ben Trane began Tuesday morning with a standing-room only crowd of roughly 85 potential jurors in the second floor courtroom in the South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk. At the end of the day, the selection process was not complete and the jury pool was significantly smaller.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

The former owner of Midwest Academy said the shuttered boarding school near Keokuk has no money and no assets. Ben Trane said he had to sign everything over to his landlord shortly after the school closed in early 2016.

District Court Judge John Linn, Tuesday, rejected the prosecution’s request to move the trial of Ben Trane out of south Lee County. Trane is accused of child and sexual abuse during his time as owner and operator of Midwest Academy.

Ben Trane is scheduled to stand trial December 12 on sex and child abuse charges related to his time in charge of Midwest Academy. The prosecution wants the court to move the trial out of Keokuk; it's worried about being able to seat an impartial jury.

Ben Trane will not be allowed to leave the state ahead of his upcoming trial on sexual and child abuse charges. A judge denied his request following a hearing Monday afternoon in Keokuk.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

Ben Trane sat inside the 2nd floor courtroom of the south Lee County Courthouse, Monday morning, wearing a brown Lee County Jail jumpsuit and shackles. He was there to request the court release him from police custody while his criminal case proceeds.

Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in a raid at Midwest Academy in January 2016 that was carried out because of claims of abuse at the boarding school for troubled teens. Now, the owner of the school in Lee County is facing multiple charges in connection with the investigation.

A judge ordered Midwest Academy to pay former employee Cheyenne Jerred $748,800 in her whistleblower lawsuit against the shuttered Lee County boarding school for troubled teens.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

A group of former Midwest Academy students and their parents are suing the school, the owner, and several associated “corporate entities.”  The students claim they were subjected to a “culture of punishment, confinement, coercion, physical confrontation and violence.”

Jason Parrott / TSPR

A wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Midwest Academy now names owner Ben Trane as a defendant. Cheyenne Jerred is claiming that she was fired for coming forward about Trane sexually abusing a student at the now closed boarding school for troubled teens, which is located near Keokuk.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

It appears the Iowa Department of Education was long aware of concerns about Midwest Academy but it did not have legal authority to investigate the Lee County boarding school for troubled teens.  The Associated Press reported this week that the agency considered the school an "unregulated home school."

Jason Parrott / TSPR

There are still many more questions than answers regarding the investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at Midwest Academy, a southeast Iowa boarding school for teens. The path to finding some of those answers appears to be the legal system as the last week has been filled with court filings and hearings regarding the school.

Midwest Academy Challenging Whistleblower Lawsuit

Feb 28, 2016

In the midst of a sexual abuse investigation, a southeast Iowa boarding school for troubled teens is also facing a whistleblower lawsuit from a former employee. Midwest Academy is disputing every aspect of the claim.

Midwest Academy Documents Made Public

Feb 20, 2016
Jason Parrott / TSPR

A district court judge in southeast Iowa has ordered the release of documents related to the investigation into claims of sexual abuse at Midwest Academy near Keokuk. The documents show the investigation targets Ben Trane, who owns the boarding school for troubled teens.

Midwest Academy Laying Off Staff

Feb 8, 2016
Jason Parrott / TSPR

The prepared statement from the owner of Midwest Academy was -- for the most part -- upbeat and positive, focusing on how the therapeutic boarding school located north of Keokuk was an asset to the entire community. But Ben Trane's tone seemed to change as the statement went on.

Search Warrants Executed at SE Iowa Boarding School

Jan 28, 2016

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) said Thursday afternoon it is involved in an investigation of alleged sexual abuse involving a Midwest Academy staff member and a former student. Midwest Academy is a therapeutic boarding school located outside Keokuk that serves national and international students.