116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - A judge ruled last week that the trial for a Marion teacher, accused of failing to report sex abuse of children in her classroom last year, will be moved from Linn County to Tama County Associate District Court based on extensive pretrial publicity involving this case, another criminal case and lawsuits filed against the teacher and the Marion Independent School District.
Sixth Judicial Associate District Judge Casey Jones granted the change of venue for Diane Graham, 59, charged with failure to report child abuse as a mandatory reporter, a simple misdemeanor, in June but the order on where it was being moved wasn't filed until last Friday.
A date for the trial has not yet been set.
The criminal complaint shows that two Starry Elementary school children in Graham's class, on two occasions, told Graham about incidents involving Logan McMurrin, 15, a classroom volunteer who was convicted in juvenile court of sexually assaulting three children in 2016.
Graham, who is on administrative leave, failed to report the children's disclosures to law enforcement or to the Department of Human Services personnel, according to the complaint.
As a teacher, Graham was a mandatory reporter of child abuse under Iowa law that requires any licensed school employee to report abuse against a child younger than 12 within 24 hours.
McMurrin, now 16, was convicted of three counts of second-degree sexual abuse against a 5-year-old and two 6-year-old girls. He was sentenced to the Iowa State Training School for Boys in Eldora. He will remain there at least until he is 18.
Mark Brown, Graham's lawyer, in arguing for a change of venue, said Graham could not have a fair and impartial trial in Linn County because of prejudice caused by news stories about the sex abuse allegations and the pending lawsuits.
In his ruling, Jones agreed, saying the pretrial publicity from the conviction of McMurrin, the pending lawsuits and new allegations of additional sex abuse at the school has resulted in prejudice against Graham and prevents her from receiving a fair and impartial trial in Linn County.
A hearing is set for Friday in Linn County on motions filed by Brown, who is asking the court to dismiss the charge against Graham, arguing it's vague and not supported by probable cause.
Graham and the Marion Independent School District face four separate lawsuits filed in February by eight parents, claiming their children were subjected to sexual abuse and psychological and emotional injuries and pain.
In June, the Marion Police Department said it was investigating new claims of abuse that occurred in a classroom at Starry Elementary.
Police said the abuse took place in the 2015-2016 school year, which could indicate the allegations are separate from those involving the three girls sexually assaulted by McMurrin. Police officials said they would not comment on the current allegations, including whether they are related to the McMurrin case.
In a statement, the Marion Independent School District Board of Education said the district learned of the allegations May 26 and will cooperate fully with the investigation.
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