Public Safety

Marion schools settle fifth lawsuit over claims of sex abuse by student volunteer

$550,000 settlement brings total to over $3 million for the district

MARION — The fifth lawsuit against the Marion Independent School District and teacher Diane Graham — filed by parents of a kindergartner over claims of sex abuse by a teenage classroom volunteer in 2016 — has ended in a $550,000 settlement.

The Gazette received the settlement agreement Thursday through an Freedom of Information Act request.

According to the settlement, the parents agreed to a structured settlement and will end up with an additional $69,000 in interest, for a total of $619,000.

The insurance company negotiated a settlement with the family in exchange for a release of all claims against the district and Graham, according to the agreement release.

The district previously paid $2.7 million in four other settlements to parents of kindergartners who claimed former volunteer Logan McMurrin, now 18, molested their children in a classroom at Starry Elementary School in Marion.

McMurrin was convicted of three counts of second-degree sexual abuse in Linn County Juvenile Court.

One more lawsuit remains pending against the district and another teacher, Sara Sievers. In that lawsuit, parents say their 5-year-old, while in Sievers’ class, was molested by McMurrin in August 2015.

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In the latest settlement, the parents said that McMurrin, then 15, repeatedly sexually abused their 5-year-old, 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, according to the lawsuit. This suit, as well as the others, claimed the child and others abused by McMurrin told Graham what had happened and that no action was taken.

Graham was acquitted by a jury in 2018 for failing to report child sex abuse in her classroom as a mandatory reporter, a simple misdemeanor. She remained employed by the district and was sent in March to Vernon Middle School as a teacher.

McMurrin was sentenced in 2017 to the Iowa State Training School for Boys in Eldora. <URL destination="https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/public-safety/teen-logan-dean-mcmurrin-who-abused-3-kindergartners-in-marion-now-free-20190510">He graduated and, despite many violations, completed the programs required and was released without further court supervision.

</URL>A judge did require him to be placed on the sex offender registry for life, and he must also serve a special sentence of parole for life because his was a sex offense conviction.

• Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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