Midwest Academy owner center of ongoing investigation - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Midwest Academy owner center of ongoing investigation

Boarding school owner Ben Trane Boarding 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. Trane was named in a document filed by Lee County Attorney Mike Short. Short filed a request to have the records from the search warrants issued to raid Midwest Academy sealed. 

Tyler McGhghy worked at the school and says he can't believe it.

"Once the facts come out, I think that Mr. Ben Trane will be exonerated," McGhghy said. "He'll be found not guilty of this."

The court document reveals alleged sexual abuse by Trane involving a prior student. The document also lists items taken from the school during law enforcement raids this year, including student files, credit cards, and DNA evidence. Lee County Sheriff Jim Sholl says the county took more than 70 calls from the school since 2013. But in each case, "We didn't develop any probable cause to arrest," Sholl said.

Officials with the Iowa Department of Human Services told WGEM News the academy is not state licensed, which means no agency has oversight of the school. The Iowa DHS is looking to support a bill that would regulate all unlicensed facilities in the state, closing loopholes. Sholl says the move is overdue.

"I do believe that if proper oversight was had in such a facility, maybe it wouldn't have gone this far," Sholl said.

DHS also says the school's military style approach to fixing behavioral problems was outdated, and former student Christine Schmidt agrees.

"Even in jail, you're allowed to make your phone calls and have your free time, do what you want to do," Schmidt said. "You could report correctional officers. You couldn't do that at Midwest, there was no way."

WGEM has a standing offer for Trane to sit down and do an interview. So far, he has declined the offer.

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