Public Safety

Former school counselor accused of sex with minor will stay in jail pending trial

Miranda Breeden, who worked at Polk in Cedar Rapids, charged with enticement

CEDAR RAPIDS — A former Cedar Rapids school counselor, charged with having sex with a 14-year-old student and attempting to buy him a gun, will remain in jail pending trial, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Mark Roberts said there was “strong evidence” that Miranda Bohlken Breeden, 45, of Monticello, was having sex with a minor and she was willing to obtain firearms for juveniles.

She is charged with enticement of a minor and making false statements during the purchase of a firearm, according to a criminal complaint.

Roberts said he was concerned about her “judgment,” and he didn’t think her argument that her health issues put her more at risk for coronavirus were persuasive. He thought the jail system could take the necessary steps to keep her safe and provide care.

During the hearing, the prosecution said Breeden had “exhibited symptoms” of the novel coronavirus but didn’t say if she had been tested.

Roberts also said Breeden is a flight risk and a danger to the community because she is accused of having sexual contact with juveniles and buying firearms for them.

Charles Paul, Breeden’s lawyer, argued that she has no criminal history and has an undiagnosed tissue disorder, asthma and other health issues that could put her at risk if she developed COVID-19. He also pointed out that she hadn’t tried to leave the area despite knowing she was under investigation for months.

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Paul noted that Breeden had filed for a protective order against the brother, also a juvenile, of the 14-year-old because of a sexual abuse allegation.

According to court documents, Breeden filed the protective order Jan. 31, after she was placed on leave from Polk Alternative Education Center when Cedar Rapids school district officials found out about the criminal investigation.

District officials said last week she was placed on leave Jan. 22 and terminated July 31. She had been employed by the district since Aug. 12, 2019.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Dupuich, in arguing for detention, said investigators have evidence of text and social media messages between Breeden and the 14-year-old boy, witness statements, photos and surveillance videos, and GPS records from the boy’s ankle monitor he wore because of a juvenile court case.

During the detention hearing, Cedar Rapids Police Officer John O’Brien testified about the details included in the complaint affidavit.

O’Brien said the student’s mother initially told a school resource officer of her concerns about the sexual relationship. The mother then found inappropriate text messages between her son and the counselor.

The school district confirmed to investigators that Breeden was the counselor for the 14-year-old during the time she was employed.

O’Brien said they have statements from the brother of the 14-year-old, during an interview at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Child Protection Center in Hiawatha, saying the 14-year-old was having sex with Breeden. Police also have photos, surveillance videos, credit card receipts and other witness statements to corroborate what the two juveniles told them about Breeden.

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The complaint affidavit also shows the brother said Breeden had taken him and two other male juveniles to a hotel in Cedar Rapids. Investigators found a surveillance video of the three juveniles with Breeden on Jan. 18 at the AmericInn in Cedar Rapids.

Investigators also have a hotel receipt, showing Breeden paid for one room at the hotel.

There also is surveillance of Breeden that night at Walmart, buying liquor and condoms.

The 14-year-old, during his interview at the center, said there was “no flirting” between him and Breeden at first but eventually she provided him with her phone number. Later they had sex in Breeden’s office at school, hotel rooms and Breeden’s parents’ house in Monticello.

O’Brien said a review of data from the boy’s ankle monitor confirmed he had been at the Monticello home Dec. 28. Breeden’s parents were not home, and she was shooting guns from the deck and was in a hot tub with the juveniles. O’Brien said Breeden had sex with the 14-year-old in the house that night.

The student and Breeden mostly communicated by text messages and through social media, which investigators reviewed.

The affidavit provided samples of those text messages, which included the teen telling Breeden he needed a gun and money because someone was “looking” for him. In another text, they discussed Breeden buying bullets and a firearm suppressor.

Investigators obtained surveillance video from Theisen’s in Cedar Rapids and a firearms form signed by Breeden to buy a gun. On the form, she falsely said the gun was for herself.

If convicted, Breeden faces a minimum of 10 years and possibly up to life on the enticement charge and up to 10 years in prison on the gun charge.

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

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