Iowa City daycare worker accused of sex abuse was applying for state peace officer job

Loughran acted “uncomfortable” during a polygraph examination

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The investigation into an Iowa City daycare worker accused of sexually assaulting a toddler at an Iowa City day care began after the man acted “uncomfortable” during a polygraph examination for a state peace officer job, court records state.

Tristan A. Loughran, 21, faces a charge of second-degree sexual abuse, a class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison. He left the Johnson County Jail after posting a $25,000 cash or surety bond following his arrest last week. He’s been ordered not to be around any children under age 16, court records show.

A special agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation discovered the possible sexual abuse on April 1 while conducting a pre-employment polygraph on Loughran as part of the Iowa Department of Public Safety applicant process.

Loughran was among 400 people who applied to join the state’s peace officer academy at the end of last year, according to Jessica Lown, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Safety.  A lengthy criminal background investigation, including a polygraph test, is part of the background test, Lown said. The department does not disclose details about where individuals stand in the application process, she said.

The special agent conducting Loughran’s polygraph examination reported Loughran appeared “uncomfortable” when discussing his day care job, a search warrant filed in Johnson County District Court states.  When pressed by the agent, Loughran admitted that he had sexual contact with a 2-year-old one month earlier, the search warrant states.

Loughran indicated that his intentions of the contact with the child were sexual, the warrant states.

“I pushed Loughran for more admissions, but he would not make any more admissions to me,” the investigator wrote in the report.

Loughran has worked for Enchanted Neighborhood Day Care and Preschool, 263 Scott Ct., on and off since 2007, the warrant states. There is no indication in court records that day care staff had any prior knowledge of the incident Loughran allegedly told investigators about.

Following the interview, the special agent forwarded information from his polygraph examination to the Iowa City Police Department, which began its own investigation, records show. When interviewed by Iowa City detectives, Loughran again admitted to committing a sex act on the same toddler, according to an Iowa City criminal complaint.

Investigators have identified the victim who Loughran named, and they confirmed that he had access to her and was, at times, alone with her, court records state. Investigators also learned that the toddler showed signs of having been sexually abused around the time Loughran said the abuse occurred.

Iowa City police Lt. Doug Hart said investigators forwarded the information about Loughran’s arrest to the Iowa Department of Human Services, which will conduct its own investigation of the complaint. Investigators do not believe there are other victims related to this case.

The state department must notify parents of children at any regulated childcare business where a founded abuse assessment has been made, said Roger Munns, department spokesman. But those assessments can take time – by law they must be completed within 20 days – and Munns said the department encourages providers to do a separate notification to keep parents up to date.

It’s unknown whether the center, which had about 80 children enrolled during the last routine state inspection in December, has made its own notification to parents.  Officials at the day care have not responded to requests for comment.

According to court documents, Loughran lives in Coralville, and his mother is Alicia Loughran. A woman named Alicia Loughran was listed as the contact person on the Enchanted Neighborhood day care center’s web page -- although that site was taken down this week. Alicia Loughran also is named as the center’s director by the Iowa Department of Human Services.

Tristan Loughran, who was known as Tristan Tjarks until legally changing his name last year, does not have a significant criminal history in Iowa, according to online court records.


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