Former students, staff speak out after Midwest Academy closes fo - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Former students, staff speak out after Midwest Academy closes for good

Posted:
The Midwest Academy logo. The Midwest Academy logo.
KEOKUK, Ia. (WGEM) -

Former students and staff of Midwest Academy are coming forward after the school shut down last week following an investigation into sexual abuse between a teacher and a student.

This comes days after Midwest Academy owner Ben Trane held a press conference about the school's closure. 

"I wouldn't wish what happened to me or anyone," Vivian Nguyen said.

She, and thousands of others internationally call themselves WWASP Survivors. WWASP or World Wide Association Of Specialty Programs and Schools is a now retired umbrella organization started 1998, as a network of independent treatment schools for troubled teenagers.

"Prisoners had more rights and could say what they wanted to say, versus us," Nguyen said. "We were kids."

Nguyen attended Casa By the Sea in Mexico until it was shutdown in 2004 after allegations of abuse. She says she was then sent to Midwest Academy, which at the time was a part of WWASP. There she says the psychological manipulation, strict rules and abusive system led to PTSD. Some of her friends even committed suicide or overdosed on drugs years after getting out of the program.

"I didn't go through any type of physical abuse by any staff member, but it's the emotional stuff, it stays with you," Nhuyen said.

"Unless you worked out there, or were a student out there, you don't understand what it was like," former Midwest Academy teacher Celia Malm said.

Malm taught from fall 2011, until she was fired in spring 2012.

"The kids are liars and manipulators, and you can't believe anything they say," Malm said. "We were told that repeatedly."

She says the atmosphere was toxic, and encouraged bullying and intimidation. While she didn't physically see abuse, a lot of it was emotional.

"Part of the problem with seeing that kind of thing, is that there's no evidence," Malm said. "You can report it, but there's absolutely no evidence to prove anything bad happened."

Meanhile, former employee Cheyenne Jerred is suing Midwest Academy for wrongful termination after she filed a report about sexual abuse in December.
Her lawyer talked with WGEM.

"She had disclosed some information to her supervisor and the Iowa Department of Human Services and soon after that she was fired. so the allegation in the claim is she was fired for making those disclosures.," said Jerred's attorney, Curtis Dial.

Dial says his client's lawsuit could take up to a year to go to trial.

Midwest Academy owner Ben Trane declined comment last Friday about Jerred's claims. Meanwhile, WGEM reached out to Trane on Monday for further comment and our call wasn't returned.

  • Continuing CoverageMore>>

  • Lawsuit accuses Iowa boarding school of culture of abuse

    Lawsuit accuses Iowa boarding school of culture of abuse

    Midwest Academy in Keokuk.Midwest Academy in Keokuk.

    Six former students have filed a lawsuit alleging that an Iowa boarding school kept them in isolation boxes for days at a time, allowed sexual abuse and provided inadequate medical care.

    More >>

    Six former students have filed a lawsuit alleging that an Iowa boarding school kept them in isolation boxes for days at a time, allowed sexual abuse and provided inadequate medical care.

    More >>
  • Iowa's governor comments on Keokuk boarding school under investigation

    Iowa's governor comments on Keokuk boarding school under investigation

    Iowa Governor Terry Branstad tours a newly renovated room in an apartment complex that used to be Fort Madison Middle School.Iowa Governor Terry Branstad tours a newly renovated room in an apartment complex that used to be Fort Madison Middle School.

    Iowa Governor Terry Branstad visited Fort Madison Wednesday night. During a tour at an old school that's been turned into an apartment complex, he answered questions about Keokuk's Midwest Academy, which remains under investigation following sexual abuse allegations. Branstad says he's open to more state oversight as Iowa lawmakers consider new standards and regulations for boarding schools. Meanwhile, there's now a new issue for former employees at the school ,which has been closed...

    More >>

    Iowa Governor Terry Branstad visited Fort Madison Wednesday night. During a tour at an old school that's been turned into an apartment complex, he answered questions about Keokuk's Midwest Academy, which remains under investigation following sexual abuse allegations. Branstad says he's open to more state oversight as Iowa lawmakers consider new standards and regulations for boarding schools. Meanwhile, there's now a new issue for former employees at the school ,which has been closed...

    More >>
  • Midwest Academy owner center of ongoing investigation

    Midwest Academy owner center of ongoing investigation

    Boarding school owner Ben TraneBoarding school owner Ben Trane

    There's now a bombshell development in the ongoing sexual abuse investigation at Midwest Academy in Keokuk. Court documents now show the owner, Ben Trane, is now a suspect in the abuse allegations.

    More >>

    There's now a bombshell development in the ongoing sexual abuse investigation at Midwest Academy in Keokuk. Court documents now show the owner, Ben Trane, is now a suspect in the abuse allegations.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly