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Rayhons files lawsuit after 2015 sexual abuse acquittal

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.

Jury finds Rayhons not guilty

GARNER | The attorney for Henry Rayhons hopes Wednesday's verdict will help his client regain at least some of his good name.

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 trial sparks thoughts on pre-illness discussions

MASON CITY | Attorneys, Alzheimer's professionals, nursing home representatives and advocates for sexual assault victims say conversations need to take place about sexuality and the elderly in light of the trial of a former North Iowa legislator accused of having sex with his Alzheimer's-stricken wife.

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.

breaking featured
UPDATE: Wright County takes next step in landing Prestage pork plant

CLARION — The Wright County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a zoning change from agricultural to industrial Monday that would allow Prestage Foods of Iowa to build a pork processing plant near Eagle Grove.

The meeting, which was attended by about 90 people packed into a Wright County courtroom, involved a two-hour public hearing on a proposed development agreement.

The agreement calls for construction to be completed by March 31, 2019, with the plant employing 922 full-time workers by Jan. 1, 2020.

The lowest-paid workers will begin at more than $37,000 annually plus benefits, Prestage officials previously said. Average annual pay is expected to be more than $47,000.

A second phase would add at least 850 additional full-time jobs, according to the agreement, which stipulates the company must then employ at least 1,772 full-time workers through Dec. 30, 2030, to be eligible for incentives.

If employment stipulations are met, the agreement says Wright County will give 10 years of annual tax rebates to Prestage, not to exceed $8 million. No taxpayer money is involved, according to Wright County Economic Development Director Bryce Davis, since the rebates will be from taxes Prestage will pay.

The county will also resurface and improve portions of roads near the site, Highway 17 and County Road C-56, at its expense. The agreement indicates the county plans to apply for state funding for the road projects.

Prestage Farms founder Bill Prestage addressed environmental concerns at the end of the meeting.

“I’m the old guy here,” Prestage said. “Our environment has been pretty good as far as not getting into the water; we’ve been very good about that.”

He said the company has done well in North Carolina environmentally with some of the farms located within the Black River area, which Prestage considers a pristine river.

Close to 50 individuals spoke mostly in favor of the proposed project. Two-thirds of the Wright County speakers were in favor of the plant, saying they were excited about the growth opportunity. A few were undecided and requested more information.

Fifteen speakers who traveled from Webster City, Hampton and other towns in adjacent counties, also spoke in favor.

Franklin and Hamilton County supervisors voiced their support for the project.

“No matter what you do some people will be upset,” Franklin County Supervisor Michael Nolte said. “This is great for our small-town main streets.”

Davis and Prestage representatives answered questions and addressed rumors.

Prestage Chief Operating Officer Jere Null repeatedly referred to what he called misconceptions and misinformation on the Internet while answering questions.

“I understand the concerns,” Null said.

One of the rumors Null addressed was one he had seen online about the plant including a jail cell onsite due to expected crime. Null said that is incorrect, but the company does plan to work closely with law enforcement.

Wright County Sheriff Jason Schluttenhofer said that his department will take everything as it comes and adjust as needed.

Phyllis Willis of Fertile was one of four from outside of adjacent counties to speak. She had spoken against a proposal to locate the plant in Mason City for many reasons, always saying how much she cared for the quality of life for the pigs.

“If Wright County wants it, and they seem to, then I’m OK with it, but I’m sad,” Willis said.

A second public hearing on the development agreement is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 1. A public hearing on the proposed urban renewal plan is 9:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8.

Both hearings will be in Wright County Courthouse’s second-floor courtroom and will follow rules the supervisors passed previously, including limiting each person’s comments to two minutes and giving priority to Wright County residents.

Prestage announced earlier this month it wants to build a 650,000-square-foot plant near Highway 17 and 320th Street, about 5 miles south of Eagle Grove.

The $240 million project was rejected by the Mason City Council on May 3.

Mason City woman thanks a good Samaritan

MASON CITY — Unable to find help after her car wouldn’t start at Hy-Vee East on Friday, Beverly Patterson was touched when a stranger came to her rescue.

A retired human resources officer, Patterson, 77, moved to Mason City from Moline, Illinois, about a year ago after suffering a stroke on the right side of her brain.

Patterson mostly recovered, but now walks with the aid of a cane.

After grocery shopping around 3:30 p.m., Patterson returned to her car to find it wouldn’t start in the heat.

With a son in Chicago and her daughter out of town in Waterloo that day, and during a day when temperatures neared 90 degrees, she feared she was out of available options.

“I like to give credit where credit is due,” she said from her home on Monday. “It was just God-sent, that was what she was.”

Marlo Shaw, 46, watched Patterson try to flag down help without success.

“I don’t know how anybody could let her sit there and be ignored,” Shaw said. “She looked overheated. I was thinking maybe I could do something.”

When she couldn’t successfully jump-start Patterson’s car, Shaw decided to give Patterson a lift home and helped her put away her groceries. She then helped her dial a tow truck and gave Patterson a ride back to the grocery store to get her car.

The tow truck attendant said she had most likely left a light on in her car, Patterson said.

“This lady is 77 years of age,” Shaw said. “It just bothered me that people were ignoring her. And I have never ignored people who have needed help.”

First noticing tattoos on Shaw’s arms, Patterson said she wasn’t sure what to expect.

“She didn’t look like the type of person who would have stopped and helped,” she said. “But, you can’t always tell a book by its cover.”

Patterson said she would welcome Shaw at her home any time.

“It’s just awesome to know that there are good people out there,” Patterson said.

file photo  

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.

Mason City man accused of leaving dog in hot truck

MASON CITY — A Mason City man accused of leaving a dog inside a truck in sweltering heat has been cited for misdemeanor animal neglect.

Police say Ryan John Bailey, 43, left a terrier mix locked inside a broken-down truck at Taco John’s restaurant, 603 S. Federal Ave., during a heat wave Friday.

Employees called police after noticing the dog inside the truck, which initially broke down in the drive-through lane and was later pushed into the parking lot, said Mason City Police Capt. Mike McKelvey.

He said witnesses reported the dog was likely inside the truck from about 11 a.m., when the vehicle broke down, to about 2 p.m. when they realized it was still in the truck and called police.

“They looked out the window there and noticed this dog acting sick or (like) it needed help out in the parking lot,” McKelvey said.

The dog was taken to the Mason City Stray Animal Shelter by an animal control officer, who issued the citation.

Authorities said the dog is still at the shelter and is expected to recover.

Police estimated the exterior temperature reached between 87 to 91 degrees during the time the dog was locked in the truck.

Bailey was issued a citation. He was not arrested.