Marion district faces sixth lawsuit over sexual abuse by class volunteer

Suit asserts teen helper told of improprieties, but nothing was done

(File photo) Marion’s Starry Elementary School.
(File photo) Marion’s Starry Elementary School.

The Marion Independent School District and teacher Diane Graham face yet another lawsuit from a parent of a Starry Elementary kindergartner over allegations of sex abuse by a teenage classroom volunteer.

The lawsuit filed Feb. 6 — the sixth against the district making similar assertions — parents say their then-5-year-old daughter repeatedly was sexually abused by a volunteer, Logan McMurrin, then 15, resulting in physical, mental, psychological and emotional injuries and damages. The abuse happened between August and October 2016 during “rest time” when the lights were off in the classroom, the suit says.

The suit asserts there were others in Graham’s class who also were being molested by the volunteer and that they told Graham of the abuse — but no action was taken.

Superintendent Chris Dyer said Monday he had just received a copy of lawsuit and “is reviewing the allegations with legal counsel. The district does not comment on pending litigation.”

The suit contends district officials also knew that McMurrin, before becoming a volunteer, had social, behavioral, family, academic and psychological problems in his past. District officials knew he had inappropriate sexual behavior and misconduct in previous years, including sexual misconduct that occurred on school property and on school buses, the lawsuit said.

While the abuse was ongoing, the suit says, McMurrin told two Marion High teachers on at least three occasions about inappropriate behavior. The incidents were reported by a teacher to Marion High School Principal Greg Semler but no action was taken, the suit alleges, and McMurrin was allowed to continue volunteering.

District officials failed to “timely inform, warn or notify” parents of the reported abuse by the volunteer, according to the lawsuit. Parents of this 5-year-old girl didn’t learn of it until being contacted by police on Nov. 2, 2016.

The parents, in the suit, said their child has required medical care, counseling, therapy and other treatment, which will continue.

Last month, the district paid the fourth settlement, of $900,000, to parents of a former Starry Elementary kindergartner who was sexually abused by McMurrin in the classroom. In total, the district has now paid $2.7 million to settle four lawsuits filed against the district and Graham.

There is another one pending against the district and another teacher, Sara Sievers.

In that suit, parents say their 5-year-old, while in Siever’s class, was molested by the McMurrin in August 2015.

McMurrin was sentenced last year to the Iowa State Training School for Boys in Eldora. He will remain there at least until he is 18 years old.

Graham was acquitted by a jury last month of failing to report child sex abuse in her classroom as a mandatory reporter, a simple misdemeanor.

During the trial, two 6-year-old girls, who were 5 when the abuse happened, testified they told Graham that McMurrin was sexually abusing them. But Graham testified the girls hadn’t told her. After receiving an email from one of the girl’s mothers, Graham said she told the principal and the issue was moved up the “chain of command.”

Graham, still a Marion teacher, remains on administrative leave, Dyer told said last month.

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