Education

Marion school district settles final sex abuse lawsuit for $2 million

More than $5 million paid to parents of children abused by classroom volunteer

Logan McMurrin
Logan McMurrin

MARION — The Marion Independent School District has settled the final lawsuit involving the sex abuse of a student by a classroom volunteer for $2 million.

The suit was filed by the parents of a then-kindergartner who claimed their 5-year-old daughter was sexually abused by Logan McMurrin, a volunteer at Starry Elementary in teacher Sara Sievers’ classroom — in January 2016.

The Gazette obtained a copy of the settlement agreement Friday.

The district’s insurance company already has paid $3.3 million to settle five lawsuits brought by parents of abused children, bringing the total awards to more than $5 million.

McMurrin, who was 15 when he was accused, was convicted in January 2017 in Linn County Juvenile Court on three counts of second-degree sexual abuse and sentenced to the Iowa State Training School for Boys in Eldora. He was released in April 2019 when he turned 18. He will be listed on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry for life.

Two of the girls who testified at McMurrin’s trial in January 2017 said they told their parents and teacher, Diane Graham, that McMurrin “hurt” them during “rest time” in 2016, when they were kindergartners at Starry Elementary.

During the rest time, classroom lights are turned off and the students napped or snuggled with a stuffed animal while lying on towels on the floor.

The girl said she told Graham what McMurrin was doing, and Graham told her, “He wouldn’t do that. He’s a good boy.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

After McMurrin’s sentencing, criminal charges were filed in April 2017 against Graham for failure to report child abuse as a mandatory reporter, a simple misdemeanor.

Graham denied knowing about the abuse, and a Tama County jury acquitted her of the charge in January 2018. She returned to teaching in March 2018 at Vernon Middle School.

Chris Dyer, then the superintendent of the Marion district, told The Gazette in late 2017 the district would continue to have student and adult volunteers in classrooms.

The district, he said, had always had an internal review processes for volunteers, but the district had “identified and implemented policy changes related to those procedures in December 2016.”

Those changes stated that all volunteers would be subject to the same screening used in hiring regular school employees. The district also may request information on any previous criminal convictions.

Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.