MASON CITY | A Charles City woman accused of sexually assaulting a child at her day care will be sentenced 10 a.m. Monday at the Cerro Gordo County Law Enforcement Complex.

Tawny Symonds, 31, is accused of using an object to sexually assault a female child under the age of 3 in December 2016, causing "blunt force trauma" to the child's genital area, police wrote in charging documents. 

She was initially charged with three felonies: second-degree sexual abuse, assault with an object and child endangerment.

Through a plea agreement, Symonds will only be sentenced on the child endangerment charge. The victim's mother is scheduled to give a victim impact statement at sentencing Monday, according to a court document filed Wednesday. 

When the case was previously scheduled to go to trial, Assistant Cerro Gordo County Attorney Gina Jorgensen noted in court documents prosecutors would seek enhanced sentencing as Symonds was a mandatory reporter while working as a day care provider. 

On Dec. 4, Jorgensen was withdrawn from the case and replaced by Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen. 

A week later, Symonds submitted an Alford plea to child endangerment, a lesser charge that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. An Alford plea is when a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges prosecutors can likely prove the charge. 

The sexual abuse and assault charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement. 

In Iowa, a second-degree sexual abuse conviction carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison, as well as sex offender registry requirements when the offense involves a child. In Iowa law, rape and sexual assault charges are called "sexual abuse." 

A conviction on the assault charge carries a sentence of not to exceed 10 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of 70 percent. This crime, officials allege, falls under the assault portion of Iowa law, not sexual abuse. 

Police say Symonds victimized the child at her day care, 696 13th St. S.E. in Mason City. She also allegedly violated a Department of Human Services' safety plan by allowing someone at that day care, something she previously agreed to not do, court documents state. 

The Globe Gazette previously reported Symonds asked for a closed sentencing hearing after there was an uproar on social media about the plea deal. Judge Rustin Davenport ruled against closing the hearing.

Iowa Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown told the Globe Gazette in late December that local authorities may "beef up" security for the sentencing hearing.

Anyone who causes a disturbance, makes threats or is disrespectful may be charged with contempt of court, Brown wrote in a motion opposing the closed hearing.

Contact Steve at 641-421-0527 or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.



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