I9: Marion Schools, another Starry Elementary teacher sued over sex abuse

Published: Jan. 15, 2018 at 10:16 AM CST
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I9 has learned of a new lawsuit alleging the same student volunteer who sexually abused students in a Marion kindergarten class did the same thing in a different class the year before.

The lawsuit names the Marion Independent School District and Starry Elementary kindergarten teacher Sara Sievers as defendants. The lawsuit was filed in August.

The lawsuit does not list the student-volunteer by name but references Logan McMurrin's convictions of sexually abusing 3 students in 2016. McMurrin is currently serving a sentence at the state training school for boys in Eldora.

The lawsuit claims in 2015, McMurrin worked as a volunteer in Sievers' room and repeatedly molested a student. In 2016, McMurrin was allowed to volunteer in Diane Graham's kindergarten class, where he sexually abused at least four students, according to the lawsuit. Graham was found not guilty last week of failing to report that abuse as a mandatory reporter.

The plaintiffs accuse the District and Sievers of failing to supervise the volunteer and to "adequately investigate and take appropriate action concerning instances of inappropriate sexual conduct by the Volunteer". To date the lawsuit says the District has not told the parents of Sievers' class that Graham's volunteer had worked in her classroom.

Sievers testified at Graham's trial she found her former volunteer to be immature, and acted as another student in her classroom. Sievers also said she witnessed the volunteer act inappropriately with students and knew at least some had been sitting on his lap.

"He picked up a child, and he put her on his hip as if you were picking up a child, and I noticed I saw it immediately and I asked him to put her down," said Sievers when she was on the stand.

Sievers also said under oath she reported her concerns with the volunteer to Marion High School and the school removed him from her classroom.

The lawsuit claims the plaintiff didn't learn that their child had been abused by the volunteer until March 2017 when the plaintiff's sister in-law found out at a dental appointment from one of the plaintiff's "in a Graham case" that the volunteer also worked in Sievers' classroom in 2015.

The lawsuit says when the plaintiff learned of the alleged abuse a report was filed with the Marion Police Department and their child was interviewed by Child Protective Services. Court documents add the plaintiffs have been told the volunteer will be either adjudicated or prosecuted for his alleged abuse of the student in question.

In a written statement to I9 attorney for the plaintiffs, Mary Pilcher, said, "My clients want to draw attention to what happened to their daughter so that school districts across the state protect the most vulnerable children in our schools."

Marion police previously investigated claims of sexual abuse at Starry during the 2015 school year. Last year, the Linn County Attorney's Office told I9 that investigation would not lead to any new charges. I9 asked police Monday about the lawsuit and was told an investigation was completed but the Linn County Attorney's office declined to prosecute due to "insufficient evidence". Police say they can't say who the suspect in that case was.

I9 also reached out to the Marion Independent School District for comment and were told by superintendent Chris Dyer they don't comment on ongoing litigation. Court documents filed by the District deny the allegations.

I9 will update this story as more information becomes available.