Editor's note: The Journal today continues the countdown of the Top 10 Stories of 2017 in Siouxland, as chosen by Journal editors. The No. 1 story will be revealed on Dec. 30, and the Journal's annual Newsmaker of the Year will be named on Dec. 31.
SIOUX CENTER, Iowa | A former Sioux Center Christian School teacher faces a criminal trial next year, after law enforcement authorities charged him with having sexual contact with more than a dozen children over three years.
Curtis Van Dam, 36, of Sioux Center, has pleaded not guilty in Sioux County District Court to 146 charges related to sexual contact with at least 13 children between August 2014 and October 2017. This is among the most charges against a Siouxland teacher for sexual-related crimes in recent memory.
Van Dam has posted bond and been released from custody. He is scheduled to stand trial March 6.
Van Dam was arrested Oct. 23 after a complaint was filed against him for inappropriate contact with a student. Administrators at Sioux Center Christian School immediately removed Van Dam, who taught fifth grade, from the school after the complaint was filed. As Sioux Center police investigated the complaint, they filed additional charges related to incidents with other children, and Van Dam was fired.
Police have said the incidents took place at various locations, including the school, where Van Dam taught for nine years. Court documents and police have not revealed the gender of the alleged victims.
Some or all of the children were under age 12 or 13. Van Dam is accused of sexually abusing or having inappropriate contact with some of the children on at least 24 separate occasions over time.
Van Dam is accused of having children fully or partially undress in front of him, permitting children to touch his genitals and exposing himself to some of the children.