Search Warrant Served on Midwest Academy

January 29, 2016

News, Troubled Teen Industry

Image Credit: Keokuk Daily Gate

Image Credit: Keokuk Daily Gate

Earlier today, officials from a number of Iowa state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the Iowa State Police, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Special Enforcement Operations Bureau, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Iowa DCI Crime Lab Crime Scene Team, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, descended on Midwest Academy in Keokuk, Iowa, and a related site in nearby Montrose, to execute a search warrant. The current owner of Midwest Academy, Ben Trane, lives on the property. It is unclear whether his home was also a target of the search.

This story is still developing, but reports from local media indicate the searches are being performed in support of an ongoing investigation regarding allegations of sexual abuse involving a staff member of Midwest Academy and a former student. This abuse apparently allegedly occurred during the student’s stay at the center. At this time, it is unclear whether that staff member is currently still employed at Midwest Academy.

The most interesting information from the search may be the second location, in Montrose. This property was not previously known to WWASP Survivors. This property is deeded to a corporation named “Iowa Trails Investment, LLC”. This company is registered in Utah and shares an address in La Verkin that has known associations to several WWASP programs and entities. Ben Trane has repeatedly attempted to distance Midwest Academy from the WWASP label, although Midwest was founded by Brian Vaifanua, the former owner and founder of which was one of WWASP’s most notorious programs, Paradise Cove, located in Samoa. Vaifanua founded Midwest Academy after Paradise Cove was shut down by the Samoan government for alleged child abuse.

This is not the first time the specter of sexual abuse allegations have surfaced around Midwest Academy. No arrests have been made or charges filed so far in this matter. As this story develops, we will continue to provide updates as they become available.

Read more about Midwest Academy here.


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About Bill Boyles

Bill Boyles is from Orlando, FL. At 14, he was forcibly escorted to WWASP's Brightway Adolescent Hospital in St. George, UT, where he stayed briefly before being sent to another WWASP facility, Paradise Cove in Western Samoa. After spending 22 months in Paradise Cove, he was transferred to yet another WWASP program, Casa By The Sea in Ensenada, Mexico. He spent 8 more months in Casa By The Sea before graduating days before his 17th birthday. He firmly believes all WWASP programs are abusive and that they all need to be shut down.

View all posts by Bill Boyles

4 Responses to “Search Warrant Served on Midwest Academy”

  1. Laura Says:

    My name is Laura and I recently earned my Master’s in Clinical Social Work and have been reading about the WWASP/CEDU/Straight programs for a few years. I am glad to see that former residents of these programs are doing something about the mistreatment they faced. I recently learned that Brian Vaifanua is now running a new program called US Youth Services. I have read several books and seen several websites detailing the experiences of families and youth in WWASP programs. I am interested in reading about first hand experiences and films about these places, I have seen Self-Medicated which mentions Brightway and Paradise Cove. It is sad to see that so many have been taken advantage of and abused all in the name of mental health/substance abuse treatment. I continue to learn a lot about WWASP and staff from your website, keep spreading the word.


  2. Elizabeth Says:

    I said this once and I will say it again. If this website is against abuse and supposedly about wanting what is fair, then how come they will only post comments against Midwest Academy?? I have posted multiple comments which say still say ‘awaiting moderation’ after a month. Yet a comment dated from just the other day ago was posted. If you want to show people that this website isn’t biased you would post ALL comments not just the comments that support your cause. This is America we all deserve the freedom of speech and as a former student of this Academy I believe I should get to express my experience as well and not have it refused to be posted by the website because it is Pro-Midwest Academy!


    • Katie Mac Says:

      To be fair, the kids didn’t get freedom of anything (least of all speech) while there. Freedom of speech is not tantamount “freedom to post whatever brainwashed BS on someone else’s private page.” It just means you can’t get arrested by the government for saying what’s on your mind and even then there are still limitations in place.


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