Ex-Teacher Sentenced After Pleading Guilty to Abusing at Least 6 Boys
A former Sioux Center Christian School teacher was sentenced to 60 years in prison on Friday after pleading guilty in November to sexual contact with at least six boys from the school. 37-year-old Curtis Van Dam is required to serve at least 17.5 years of the sentence, which does not begin until he finishes a separate 15-year term in federal prison for filming other young boys showering.
In late November 2018, Van Dam pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree sexual abuse, five counts of third-degree sexual abuse, and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor. He originally faced up to 80 years in prison and was charged with over 140 sex charges – the others were dismissed as part of a plea deal.
The incidents of abuse happened at several locations, including on school property. Van Dam was fired immediately after the allegations were revealed. Van Dam told students not to discuss the sexual contact. In one case, he threatened to lower a student’s grades if he did not submit to sexual abuse. In total, Van Dam is suspected of initiating sexual contact among 15 students.
36 victim impact statements were filed – 19 of which were read in court. Parents spoke about how the abuse affected their trust and their faith in their churches and resulted in trauma and symptoms consistent with PTSD.
Legal Recourse for School Sexual Abuse Victims and Their Families
Attorney contributor Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com has a long history of helping families affected by sexual violence find justice – first as a prosecutor and now as a civil attorney. We’ve asked him to discuss the legal options available to victims of school sexual abuse and their families:
Child sex abuse is an unimaginably traumatic experience which can affect victims for their entire lives. Additionally, the families of these victims suffer through their own trauma. In cases of abuse involving trusted individuals like teachers, coaches, and religious organizations, this trauma has a ripple effect which can affect the entire community, damaging the public trust as a whole.
Families affected by child sex abuse deserve answers, justice, and support. When the perpetrator is a teacher or another school employee, it’s crucial to make sure the abuser is arrested before they can hurt others. Additionally, in some cases, the school must also be held accountable for negligence which allowed the abuse to occur. For example, a school might be considered negligent for failing to report suspected abuse to law enforcement or for hiring an employee without first running a background check. In cases that involve negligence, the victims and their families may have the right to file a lawsuit.
If you or your child is a survivor of sexual abuse by a school employee, we understand the trauma your family has gone through. If you’d like to learn more about how the legal system can help you find justice, contact one of our experienced sexual abuse survivors attorneys for a free consultation.