Henry Rayhons

Henry Rayhons reacts after a not-guilty verdict was returned in Hancock County District Court in April 2015. Accused of felony sex abuse, Rayhons has now filed suit against his late wife’s daughters, a prosecutor and others involved in the case.

file photo

GARNER — A former state legislator, acquitted on charges of third-degree sexual abuse last year, has filed a lawsuit that includes claims of malicious prosecution and defamation of character.

Henry Rayhons, 80, Garner, was accused of sexually abusing his wife, Donna Rayhons, while she was a resident at the Concord Care Center in Garner.

During his trial the state claimed Donna Rayhons, who had Alzheimer’s disease, was incapable of giving consent to sex due to her mental condition.

Rayhons is now suing Suzan Brunes of Klemme and Linda Dunshee of Urbandale, his wife’s daughters from a previous marriage; Dr. John Brady, medical director at Concord Care Center; ABCM Corp., the parent company of the care center; and Iowa Assistant Attorney General Susan Krisko, who filed the sexual abuse charge.

The lawsuit was filed in Hancock County District Court in April, but was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa earlier this month because of Henry Rayhons’ claim that Krisko violated his rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Rayhons claims Brunes and Dunshee began a campaign to separate him and his wife in March 2014.

Donna Rayhons was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s on March 28, 2014, according to the lawsuit.

Rayhons claims his stepdaughters, who had power of attorney for their mother, had her admitted to the Concord Care Center the next day without his knowledge or consent.

Rayhons claims Brady abdicated his professional responsibility by deferring to Brunes and Dunshee and not allowing his wife to leave the nursing home with him for outings.

Brady did not have an independent medical assessment done before directing that Donna Rayhons’ intimacy with her husband be restricted during his visits, according to the lawsuit. Henry Rayhons claims this violated the standard of care for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Concord Care Center failed to properly supervise Brady while he was managing the care and visitation of patients, the lawsuit states.

Rayhons claims Brunes and Dunshee immediately had his wife transported to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa for testing for sexual abuse after her roommate reported that the Rayhons made noises that made her uncomfortable when the couple was in a secluded portion of the room.

The lawsuit states the sounds the roommate heard were the Rayhons reciting the rosary.

Neither the nurse examiner at the hospital nor Hancock County Attorney David Solheim found evidence to support a charge of sexual abuse, Henry Rayhons claims.

Brunes and Dunshee sent approximately 370 emails to law enforcement and state prosecutors, imploring them to investigate and file charges, according to the lawsuit.

Krisko began investigating the case in June 2014 based on statements from Brunes, Dunshee and Brady, according to the lawsuit.

Henry Rayhons claims although his wife’s roommate told an agent she did not hear sexual noises from the secluded portion of the room, Krisko “manufactured” the roommate’s words into a statement that the noises she heard were sexual.

Henry Rayhons, who had been a state representative for 18 years, announced on Aug. 4, 2014, that he was withdrawing as a candidate for re-election.

Donna Rayhons died four days later. Six days after that, Krisko charged Henry Rayhons with third-degree sexual abuse.

Henry Rayhons was acquitted following a jury trial in April 2015 in Hancock County District Court.

In his lawsuit Rayhons claims he was forced to withdraw from his seat in the Iowa Legislature, was subject to local, state and national media coverage of the charges and suffered serious and severe emotional distress.

He also spent more than $140,000 on attorney’s fees and expenses in defending himself in court, according to the lawsuit.

All the defendants have responded in court to the lawsuit.

Dunshee stated the state of Iowa brought the criminal charge against her stepfather, not her and her sister.

She also claimed she would have preferred that District Court Judge Colleen Weiland not allow cameras into the courtroom, but she had no input into that decision.

Dunshee also said her mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s as early as 2010, not 2014 as her stepfather claims.

Both Dunshee and Brunes cited truth as a defense against Henry Rayhons’ defamation claims against them.

Brady stated his actions “were at all times reasonable and motivated by the best interests of quality patient care” and not done to injure Henry Rayhons or interfere with his relationship with his wife.

ABCM stated Brady was an independent contractor and not an employee or agent of ABCM or Concord Care Center.

ABCM also stated neither ABCM or Concord initiated the criminal charge against Rayhons.

Krisko stated she is immune from a civil suit for damages because she was acting as a prosecutor, not an investigator.

After his acquittal on the sexual abuse charge, Rayhons filed a motion asking a district court judge to force the Iowa Attorney General and the Iowa Department of Public Safety to turn over emails between the two agencies and his stepdaughters.

He was seeking the emails in an effort to discover the motive for his prosecution, according to court documents.

Judge Robert Blink denied his request earlier this month.

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