FOREST CITY | An 18-year-old charged in a campus sexual assault last year while he was a Waldorf University student has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Sean Patrick Perkins, of Olathe, Kansas, entered a written plea of guilty in Winnebago County District Court June 1 to serious misdemeanor assault.
As part of a plea bargain reached by both sides, District Judge Colleen Weiland sentenced Perkins to a one-year deferred prosecution agreement. A charge of felony third-degree sexual abuse was dismissed.
A deferred prosecution means Perkins will be granted amnesty if he fulfills certain requirements, which include a 26-week intervention program.
Upon meeting conditions of the agreement, the assault conviction will be expunged from Perkins' record in a year. A conviction of serious misdemeanor assault in Iowa is punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,875.
Police charged Perkins with sexual abuse after he was accused of raping a Waldorf student in her dorm room Nov. 12. In Iowa law, rape and sexual assault is charged as sexual abuse.
His trial was scheduled to begin June 6 in Winnebago County. If convicted, Perkins would have faced a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
During a hearing the day before the scheduled trial, Winnebago County Attorney Kelsey Beenken said Perkins' conduct was "reprehensible" and the victim was "credible and honest."
However, the evidence in the case isn't sufficient to go to trial on the sexual abuse charge, according to Beenken.
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The woman was not in court on Tuesday, but Beenken said she told her she wants the court to know she was "emotionally damaged" by what Perkins did.
However, the woman also believes the plea agreement, which includes a no-contact order for one year, will help her "start the healing process," Beenken said.
Perkins' attorney, Charles Kenville, said in court on Tuesday that "there was some wrongdoing" on the part his client, but it did not amount to rape.
He noted the intervention program Perkins is required to complete covers a broad range of topics, including physical violence, mental and emotional violence, sexual abuse and substance abuse.
Perkins left Waldorf as a result of the accusation against him, Kenville said. It's not clear if he was expelled or left on his own.
In February, a Waldorf spokeswoman said she wasn't allowed to comment on the case.
After being arrested in February on the sexual abuse charge, Perkins was jailed in Winnebago County for two days until his family posted a $10,000 bond.
Waldorf conducted its own investigation into the alleged sexual assault. In a court filing, Kenville argued that nothing from university's investigation should be brought up during the trial, since Waldorf's standard for sexual assault is different from the state's standard.
The results of Waldorf's investigation haven't been made public.