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Former owner of Midwest Academy takes witness stand in southeast Iowa; read live tweets

Former owner of Midwest Academy takes witness stand in southeast Iowa

Updated Story Dec. 20, 2017 10:41 p.m.

“That's the most horrible thing, I would never do that,” says former Midwest Academy owner Benjamin Trane.

An emotional testimony was given Tuesday from the former owner of Midwest Academy in a South Lee County courtroom.

Trane is now on trial for sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of a child by a counselor and child endangerment in Keokuk.

Trane told the courtroom that anywhere between 250 to 300 students were boarded at Midwest Academy before the recession. He says there were never any secrets at the school, especially since there were so many eyes watching at all times.

Trane denied all of the allegations against him Wednesday afternoon. Those allegations range from placing students in unsafe isolation rooms to sexual misconduct with students. He denied telling girls to “get naked,” and commented on a body image exercise.

"This has been blown so far out of proportion,” says Trane, regarding the body image exercise.

He says one of the sexual abuse accusations stem from a disagreement with a student who became angry with him during her time at Midwest Academy.

"Like I said she didn’t want to have anything to do with me anyways,” says Trane.

The jury of five women, seven men heard emotional testimony from Trane who's pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him.

"To be accused of something that you hate, is just the most horrible feeling in the world. I have been around abused kids that’s what I have dealt with from alcohol and all sorts of different abuse and it's the worst thing in the entire world,” says Trane.

Court will resume Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Cross examination is expected to start in the morning.

KHQA’s Lynsey Whitaker will be in the court room tweeting as the trial continues to day eight.


Original Story Dec. 20, 2017 3:47 p.m.

The former owner of a now defunct school for troubled youth took the witness stand at the South Lee County courthouse in Keokuk Wednesday afternoon.

Benjamin Trane is the former owner of Midwest Academy.

He is facing charges of third-degree sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of a child by a counselor and child endangerment relating to his activities at the school.

Trane has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The Burlington Hawkeye reports a former school employee testified earlier this week that a 16-year-old student alerted her to sexual abuse allegations against Trane.

Cheyenne Jerred first alerted authorities about sexual abuse allegations at Midwest Academy.

On the witness stand, Jerred recounted conversations she had with a teenage girl who attended the school before it was shut down by law enforcement in 2016.

A child protection worker in Keokuk also testified about two young boys who were taken out of the school after concerns were raised about isolation rooms containing human waste.

KHQA's Lynsey Whitaker is inside the courtroom today and will show you what Trane had to say on the witness stand tonight on KHQA News.

Follow her live tweets on Twitter below.


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