SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (KSFY) - Police in Sioux Center, Iowa are still investigating charges against Curtis Van Dam, a former school teacher at Sioux Center Christian School.
Van Dam was arrested Wednesday, charged with 140 counts of various sexual abuse charges. On Thursday, Sioux Center Police Chief Paul Adkins confirmed all of the accounts of abuse are from children under the age of 14.
"The entire community is shocked and also very saddened," Adkins said. "Emotions are very high in the community."
Adkins said he's never had a case like this in his career.
"I've been here for 44 years and we have never had anything like this at all happen," he said.
The number of victims involved in the case, and whether they were boys or girls is staying confidential for now. Adkins said police are staying tight-lipped on the case for a reason.
"I'm trying to protect the victims as much as I can," Adkins said. "I can tell you there were numerous victims and that all the victims were children."
Adkins said the abuse happened at various locations that he couldn't disclose, but one of those locations was at Sioux Center Christian School where Van Dam was previously employed. Adkins said Van Dam had been a teacher there for 13 years. The first charge of abuse a victim reported in this case was in 2013.
Adkins said the investigation is still ongoing and that the school has been helpful throughout the investigation.
"They've been extremely cooperative, obviously they are as shocked and saddened as we all are, but they've been extremely proactive in this whole case," Adkins said.
Adkins said the department as 10 total officers in his police department, all of whom worked together on this case. He said there were a couple of officers in particular who led the charge. Adkins discussed the difficulty of these types of cases, where children are involved, on officers wellbeing with KSFY News reporter Erika Leigh.
"I'm extremely proud of the job they've done," Adkins said. "Everybody's doing fine."
Adkins said his department was assisted by the county attorney, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Department of Human Services.
"Through all the cooperation, I think everyone's done a phenomenal job," Adkins said.
Now the department will continue to investigate if there are additional charges and will work with the county attorney.
"In the end justice will prevail and I believe we will get through this. We are a very strong and united community," Adkins said.
Administrators at the northwest Iowa school where a former teacher is accused of sexual abuse say they are shocked by the allegations, and are looking to provide counseling for students and parents.
The Sioux Center Center Christian school issued a statement to KSFY News Thursday after more charges were leveled against 36-year-old Curtis Van Dam.
Van Dam was fired from the school after he was initially charged with lascivious acts with a child last month. On Wednesday, authorities announced dozens of more charges. Police say the charges stem from incidents involving numerous children between August 2013 and last month. The crimes occurred at various locations, including Sioux Center Christian School.
Head of Sioux Center Christian School Josh Bowar said the school is offering daily guidance to students and teachers following the initial announcement of charges. The school will offer a group session for parents with All Things New Therapy Services Thursday at 6:30 p.m. In addition, on November 15, the school will host a counseling session for parents and 5th through 8th grade students with Pastor Aaron & Nicole Baart.
Bowar said the school is planning additional specialized support for students in the coming months.
"We know hearing these new charges is incredibly painful and heartbreaking, but we need to be reminded again that we are walking this road of pain, so that another child need not," Bowar said, in the release.
The following is the full statement from Bowar:
"We have been told from the beginning that additional charges for a former teacher at Sioux Center Christian would be coming. Today, Mr. Curt Van Dam, was charged with 101 felonies and 39 misdemeanors. We have been informed that he was arrested this afternoon.
On Oct 18, within hours of hearing a complaint, school officials removed Mr. Van Dam from the school and immediately contacted authorities. His employment was terminated on Oct 19 and we have been in full cooperation with civil authorities since. This case is in the hands of our criminal justice system and we trust that justice will be served.
Though the number of charges do not necessarily reflect the number of students, we are grieved again as we hear the extent of the charges. We’ve wept, now it’s time to weep again. We’ve prayed, now we need to continue praying. We’ve brought our anger and fears to the Lord, and now we need to lay those feelings again at His feet.
We need to remember that though the charges are many, it also means that many students are no longer carrying secrets. Kids, we want you to know that we consider you brave for telling your parents, the police, and the interviewers what happened to you. We praise God that your testimony has brought to light a dark secret that none of us adults knew was there. You have played an important role in keeping others safe.
Please know that thousands are lifting you before the throne of your Father in heaven… trust Him to restore you completely.
Our focus at Sioux Center Christian continues to be the Christ-centered education of our students, while also providing daily support and guidance to students as needed through their teachers and professional counselors. Tonight at 6:30, there will be a group session for parents with All Things New Therapy Services at our school. Next Wednesday, Nov. 15, we will have a parent/5th – 8th grade student opportunity with Pastor Aaron & Nicole Baart at our school. We are planning additional specialized support for our students in the months ahead and for as long as it takes.
If this news especially hurts because you have suffered or are suffering abuse, we encourage you to bring it out of the realm of secrecy, so that it loses its powerful grip on you. We encourage you to talk to a professional Christian counselor.
We know hearing these new charges is incredibly painful and heartbreaking, but we need to be reminded again that we are walking this road of pain, so that another child need not. In the midst of this hurt, we proclaim hope. Hope in our sovereign God, who is so very trustworthy and true in His promises of life and healing. He gave His only Son, who lived as one of us, died on the cross, rose again, and reigns on high, so that we could enjoy eternal life in Christ’s unfolding Kingdom.
As a community of people bound together by our love and care for kids, let us persevere through the trials that lay before us. This will be an enduring process but we rest in our Living Hope, Jesus Christ. Let’s continue to pray and encourage one another. We have been overwhelmed by the love and support shown by our entire community and beyond …you have done more for us than words can define. Be assured that God is good and He is at work mightily in this school. Thank you for your continued prayers and support."