SIOUX CENTER, Iowa — Police have charged a fifth-grade teacher with 140 counts of sexual abuse, spanning nearly four years and involving multiple children under the age of 14.

Curtis Van Dam, 35, was arrested on Nov. 8 for crimes that allegedly began in August 2013 and did not end until October 2017, when his behavior was exposed, according to a KSFY report.

The father of two was immediately fired from Sioux Center Christian School when the allegations were reported. He had worked there for 13 years.

“The entire community is shocked and also very saddened,” Sioux Center Police Chief Paul Adkins said. “Emotions are very high in the community.”

The police chief, a 44-year veteran of the community, said there has never been another incident like this that he recalls. He said the number of victims, as well as their sex, is being kept confidential to protect them.

“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.”

Van Dam’s crimes occurred at multiple locations, including the Sioux Center Christian School.

Josh Bowar, a representative of the school, said in a statement (see below): “We have been in full cooperation with civil authorities.”

“This case is in the hands of our criminal justice system and we trust that justice will be served,” Bowar continued. “Though the number of charges [does] not necessarily reflect the number of students, we are grieved again as we hear the extent of the charges.”

Speaking directly to the victims, Bower said he appreciated their bravery.

“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,” Bower said.

The children will be provided with counseling.

Adkins acknowledged that the school has been helpful throughout the continuing 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 there are 10 officers assigned to the case, and that the officers would continue to work to investigate whether there will be additional charges.

“In the end, justice will prevail and I believe we will get through this. We are a very strong and united community,” Adkins said.