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Trial begins for former director of defunct Iowa academy

Testimonies began Wednesday at South Lee County District Court in the trial of Benjamin Trane. (Lee County Jail)

KEOKUK, Iowa (AP) - The trial has begun for a former boarding school director who is accused of sexually and physically abusing several children who attended the now-defunct school in southeast Iowa.

The Hawk Eye reports that testimonies began Wednesday at South Lee County District Court in the trial of Benjamin Trane, who owned and operated Midwest Academy in Keokuk. Trane has pleaded not guilty to sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and child endangerment charges.

A state prosecutor told the jury that while Trane didn't directly abuse all the children, he set policies in which students were given prolonged detention in small isolation chambers, denied healthy food and forced to sleep on the floor.

Trane's attorney will begin presenting the defense's case Tuesday.

Trane faces a sentence of 17 years if convicted of all charges.

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