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KEOKUK, Iowa (AP) — The former director of a southeast Iowa boarding school testified he never hurt students, at times tearfully rejecting charges he sexually and physically abused children before the school was closed in 2016.

The Burlington Hawk Eye reports Benjamin Trane broke down on the witness stand Wednesday in South Lee County District Court during three hours of questioning by his attorney. He’s pleaded not guilty to sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and child endangerment charges.

Asked about earlier testimony that he’d abused students at the Keokuk school, Trane responded, “It’s absolutely not the truth.”

Trane faces a sentence of 17 years if convicted of all charges.

Midwest Academy was closed in January 2016 after a raid by federal, state and local officials. About 100 students were sent home or to other schools.


Information from: The Hawk Eye,