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Iowa boarding school director guilty of abuse charges

December 22, 2017

Benjamin Trane, who owned and operated Midwest Academy, testifies during his sexual abuse and child engagement trial, Wednesday Dec. 20, 2017 at the South Lee Country Courthouse in Keokuk, Iowa. The school was shut down in 2016 by state and federal authorities in 2016. (John Lovretta /The Hawk Eye via AP)

KEOKUK, Iowa (AP) — A southeast Iowa jury on Friday found a former boarding school director guilty of abusing students, days after he tearfully testified that he hadn’t hurt any children.

The jury found Benjamin Trane guilty of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of a child by a counselor and child endangerment, according to the Burlington Hawk Eye . The jury didn’t find Trane guilty of a more serious charge, third-degree sexual assault, which could have meant a 10-year prison sentence.

The nine-man, three-woman jury began deliberating Thursday afternoon.

Trane will be sentenced early next year and could face up to nine years in prison.

Trane was the owner and director of Midwest Academy in Keokuk. The school was closed in January 2016 after being raided by federal, state and local officials, prompting about 100 students to be sent home or to other schools.

Earlier in the trial, Trane had at times tearfully rejected charges he sexually and physically abused children at the school.

Asked about testimony that he’d abused students, Trane told jurors Wednesday, “It’s absolutely not the truth.”

On Friday, Trane, 39, remained stoic as District Judge Mark Kruse read the verdict. Several supporters of Trane in the courtroom choked back tears.

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Information from: The Hawk Eye, http://www.thehawkeye.com

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