CEDAR RAPIDS — Two parents gave heart-wrenching accounts Thursday of how their 5-year-old daughters’ lives were “turned upside down” after being sexually abused by a 15-year-old boy who volunteered last year at Starry Elementary School in Marion.
“She was a fun-loving and innocent little girl who was quick to give out hugs — until ... he broke our little girl,” a father said while tearing up during a victim’s impact statement in Linn County Juvenile Court.
The father said the “hardest decision” he ever made as a parent was to put his child on the stand to testify against Logan McMurrin, who was convicted in March.
“You forced these little girls to come to trial and tell what happened to them,” the father said. “You have shown no remorse.”
A mother, who started crying and shaking during her victim’s impact statement, said her daughter’s behavior changed drastically last year. She no longer wanted to participate in gymnastics, had a hard time eating and didn’t want to wear dresses to school. Her 5-year-old also became obsessive about locking doors and windows because she was afraid McMurrin would break into their house and abuse her again.
“I will never forgive him for stealing her innocence,” the mother said.
McMurrin, convicted in Juvenile Court of three counts of second-degree sexual abuse, had no reaction during his final dispositional — or sentencing — hearing. He declined to make a statement after being asked twice if he wanted to do so by Sixth Judicial Associate District Judge Angie Wilson.
In her March ruling, Wilson said based on the evidence at trial McMurrin committed the sexual acts on the three victims while in the kindergarten class between Aug. 26 and Oct. 21, 2016.
Wilson said Thursday she is certain of her verdict and disappointed McMurrin chose not to make a statement. She said she knows he doesn’t agree with her findings, but she told him, at some point, he has to make the decision to admit what he did in order to change.
The judge noted that there is a stigma with child victims that they might not be credible but “children don’t make these things up. I have no doubt they were telling the truth,” she told McMurrin.
Wilson sentenced McMurrin to the Iowa State Training School for Boys in Eldora. He will go to school and receive supervision and rehabilitation services at the state facility until he is at least, 18 years old.
Teacher facing charges
Meanwhile, Starry Elementary kindergarten teacher, Diane Graham, 59, was charged in April with failure to report as a mandatory reporter, a simple misdemeanor.
The criminal complaint shows two children in Graham’s class, on two different occasions, told Graham about incidents involving McMurrin.
The sexual abuse incidents, described in detail, occurred in her classroom where McMurrin volunteered, according to Wilson’s ruling. Graham failed to report the children’s disclosures to law enforcement or to Department of Human Services personnel, the complaint shows.
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.
Graham, who is on paid administrative leave, has asked the for her trial — scheduled to begin on July 31 — to be moved out of Linn County. A hearing on the motion is set for June 8.
Eight parents have filed four separate lawsuits against Graham and the Marion Independent School District claiming their children were subjected to sexual abuse and psychological and emotional injuries and pain.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Lance Heeren, who recommended placing McMurrin at the school, said the teen could remain at the facility up until age 19 1/2 if school officials make that determination. He will receive sex offender treatment at the school but because of state budget cuts, it’s only group therapy, not one-on-one treatment as the school had offered in the past.
Shawn Moss, a Juvenile Court officer, told the judge he initially recommended placing McMurrin in a residential treatment facility, instead of the training school, but he found out Wednesday that the teen couldn’t be placed until July 1, because of bed availability. That would result in McMurrin sitting in juvenile detention without treatment for nearly two months.
Moss said McMurrin could start at the training school as soon as next week.
Amy Dollash, McMurrin’s lawyer, said he accepted the placement at the training school. She did ask Wilson if there was a bed available in residential treatment at some point, would that still be an option for the teen?
Wilson said she was torn over whether to send McMurrin to the training school or a residential treatment facility but after hearing the victims’ impact statements and Heeren’s recommendation she decided the training school is the best option.
Wilson added that Dollash could in the future ask for a hearing on the residential treatment option.
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