Change of venue request denied for Keokuk boarding school sex abuse trial

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KEOKUK, Iowa (AP) — The sex abuse trial of a former boarding school owner will remain in South Lee County District Court.

On Tuesday Judge John Linn denied the prosecution’s request for a change of venue regarding Ben Trane, who owned and operated the now defunct Midwest Academy in Keokuk. Linn says the prosecution’s evidence and arguments regarding pretrial publicity and Trane’s extensive community ties didn’t convince him that an impartial jury couldn’t be empaneled.

Investigators allege Trane used his position at the for-profit academy to pursue sexual relationships with teenage students. A judge has awarded a default judgment to parents and former students who sued, alleging the school used isolation boxes and allowed sexual harassment and abuse.

The trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 12.

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