Son of school superintendent pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

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TREYNOR, Iowa — The admission from the superintendent's son that he committed three sexual assaults has divided this western Iowa community that prides itself on its top-notch schools.

The Treynor school district, with 774 students about 20 miles east of Omaha, Neb., is a place of daily excellence, where wrestling team members also participate in musicals, the co-presidents of the high school student body told more than 125 residents at a sometimes-heated school board meeting last week.

The idyllic image was shattered in July when Kreighton Elwood, now 18, was charged with the sexual assault of three girls in late 2012. He is the son of school Superintendent Kevin Elwood, who has been with the district for more than a decade.

Kreighton Elwood took his victims to a secluded area, used force to remove their clothes and tried to make the girls touch him, records show. He hid cellphones, shoes and car keys to keep the girls from escaping.

In September, the younger Elwood pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and one count of false imprisonment. He spent 14 days in jail and received two years of probation. He was ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years and must complete a sexual offender treatment program.

Kreighton Elwood originally faced more serious charges: two counts of third-degree sexual abuse, one count of assault and one count of first-degree kidnapping.

But the victims' families objected.

"It's unusual that from the beginning, the victims' families said (Kreighton Elwood) needs treatment, minimal time in jail and no lifetime on the sexual offender registry," Pottawattamie County Attorney Matthew Wilber said. "I drive through Treynor every day on my way home; I've seen the TV trucks. It'd be nice if they can start to get some closure."

But the community has yet to heal. Darrin and Edie Eitmann started a petition in December that asks for the superintendent's resignation. They contend Kreighton Elwood's assaults are a symptom of a larger cultural problem that community leaders are ignoring. The petition, which more than 165 people have signed, claims Kevin Elwood did not appropriately investigate reports of sexual abuse and harassment.

They say two of their daughters have been the victims of rapes in the past two years in separate incidents not involving Kreighton Elwood. Those incidents influenced the couple's decision to write a separate online letter detailing their reasons for starting the petition.

"I wanted people to not feel alone. I wanted people to start talking about it. I wanted parents to start having this conversation with their kids," Darrin Eitmann said. "There's only one way to change a culture, and that's for parents to get involved."

One mother who agreed to speak to The Des Moines Register on condition of anonymity agrees that Treynor has a cultural problem. Her teenage daughter, who had been bullied since fourth grade, was the victim of two classmates' attempted sexual assault in the spring, she said.

The incident was not reported to police in the city of fewer than 1,000 people because it would be the teen's word against her attackers', and the family believed prosecution would be difficult, she said. The mother asked not to be identified because another child still attends Treynor schools.

"Treynor is a very conservative town. If you're a boat rocker, you're not welcome," the mother said. "People don't like to talk about anything bad in that town."

The district has been informed of a complaint filed with the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, but the state board has not contacted the district yet, said Joe Thornton, the district's lawyer.

The Eitmanns said they plan to file a complaint this week alleging school officials' violations of state ethics rules.

All information reported to the district has been investigated, and appropriate actions have been taken, Thornton said. Despite the online petition calling for the superintendent's resignation, he said no official complaints have been made with the district.

"There's a proper procedure and method to do that, and it's our desire for people to do that instead of use social media," Thornton said.

The superintendent referred all questions to the district's attorney, as did school board President Jerry Hempel.

Some people allege a lack of remorse

Some residents said they are frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of remorse on behalf of Kreighton Elwood and his family.

At a Sept. 19 sentencing hearing, one victim who once considered Kreighton Elwood a friend told him how his actions affected her. She said she was disappointed that she received an apology by text message only after she asked him months later why he assaulted her.

She said she suspects no one in his family cares that he never atoned in person for his actions, according to court records.

"Originally, I wanted you to go to counseling and resolve this," records show the victim said. "But seeing your disregard for the seriousness of the matter, I hope the court imposes a sentence that teaches you (and others) that your behavior is not ordinary 17-year-old behavior."

Kreighton Elwood apologized in court for his actions, records show. But residents, including the Eitmanns, point to three incidents that they say show his defiance.

According to Wilber, the county attorney:

• Kreighton Elwood refused to sign paperwork that would have allowed him to begin a sexual-offender treatment program. This is because Iowa law prohibits a sex offender from having unsupervised access to underage children, and his therapist has recommended he continue to live at home with his three siblings.

A judge ruled Thursday that he could live at home but could not be around his siblings unsupervised. Kreighton Elwood testified he had been around his siblings unsupervised, and the judge warned him this is against the law.

• The younger Elwood returned to school grounds during the summer after his arrest. County officials had to explain to district officials that this was not acceptable.

• A cellphone video in which Kreighton Elwood rapped along to lyrics that vowed revenge on those who wronged him was sent to one of his victims. Investigators later learned a friend had sent the video to all the contacts stored on the friend's phone, and did so without Kreighton Elwood's knowledge.

Divide is evident at school meeting

The community's divide was seen at Jan. 13's school board meeting, where residents addressed the board for 40 minutes. The second speaker presented a petition that stated full support for the superintendent. It had more than 100 signatures.

About half in the audience backed the board and superintendent. Others urged the board to bring in a third-party investigator to determine whether school leaders appropriately handled complaints related to Kreighton Elwood.

Some who attended the meeting, including the Eitmanns, said they want to know when school board members and the superintendent knew about the sexual assaults and what they did about that knowledge.

Iowa law requires a mandatory reporter — a category that includes school employees, doctors and nurses — to report sexual abuse of any children younger than 12. However, all of Kreighton Elwood's victims were teenagers.

Shannon Simpson, who said she has three daughters in Treynor schools, told the crowd that night that not everything a child does reflects upon the parents. School officials sometimes have not been able to share details of the investigation for legal reasons, she said.

Loud cheers erupted when she finished her speech with a statement of support for district leaders.

"I would recommend to this community that we put aside the feelings that we have," she said. "I 100% support Superintendent Elwood and this board, and I believe all of you should as well."

But Troy Granger, who said he's a 1990 graduate of Treynor High, was among those who called for an outside investigation into the conduct of school officials. He said this would help prove no "good-old boy syndrome present" is keeping officials from being held accountable.

"You guys need to let us know what's going on," Granger said.

Minutes earlier, Jim Murray had walked to the microphone with a solution. He said he has served two terms on both the school board and City Council.

Women who belong to community organizations should hold sensitivity training sessions with school officials and others, he said. He also suggested a "young women's empowerment seminar," which the local American Legion would help finance.

"And I would keep it to young ladies; training for the young ladies for empowerment, for education," Murray said.

No mention was made of training for boys, an omission the Eitmanns said several people at the meeting noticed.

Parent questions lack of counseling

The assaults came to light after the daughter of Jeff Driver reported her sexual assault to police months after the Nov. 16 incident. Kreighton Elwood persuaded Driver's daughter, then 17, to get in his pickup to meet some friends. Text messages between the two show she told him she was hesitant to do so because, she typed, "I don't want to get raped."

They did not go to meet friends. In a cornfield near her house, Kreighton Elwood took her cellphone from her and "forcefully removed all of her clothes except for her underwear," court records show.

Driver's daughter kept telling Kreighton Elwood 'no,' records show, but he grabbed her hand and tried to force it down his pants. He later snapped about five pictures of her nearly naked, records show.

"(The victim) states that she tried to get him to stop, but she was overpowered," records show.

Driver said school officials have made counselors available to all students after past traumatic incidents. None was made available after the assaults came to light, he said. Driver also said he thinks school officials did little to ensure Kreighton Elwood stayed away from school grounds after his arrest in the summer.

The school board, through its lawyer, maintains that a thorough investigation into school officials' conduct was completed. If that's the case, Driver said he wonders why no investigators contacted his family.

"Right now I feel we're getting the shaft, just because I don't think there's been a complete and thorough investigation," Driver said. "I don't know if the superintendent did anything wrong. I just don't feel (school officials) did anything right either."

Jens Manuel Krogstad also reports for The Des Moines Register.

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