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Henry Rayhons


GARNER | House District 8 State Rep. Henry Rayhons of Garner was arrested Friday morning on a charge of sexually abusing his wife when she was a resident of a care center, according to a news release from the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Rayhons, 78, is accused of sexually abusing his wife, Donna Lou Rayhons, on May 23 when she was a resident at Concord Care Center in Garner, the news release said.

The alleged victim suffered from mental defect or incapacity at the time of alleged sexual assault, the news release said. According to the criminal complaint, Rayhons was told on May 15 at a care conference with care center staff and the alleged victim's family that Donna Lou Rayhons did not have the cognitive ability to give consent to any sexual activity.

Rayhons is charged with third-degree sexual abuse, a Class C felony. He was booked into the Hancock County Jail on Friday morning and is being held on $10,000 cash-only bond.

The Hancock County Attorney's Office has referred the case to the Iowa Attorney General's Office for prosecution. The Garner Police Department received the initial information about the alleged crime and contacted the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to investigate, the news release said.

The complaint alleges Donna Rayhon's roommate at the care center said Henry Rayhons entered his wife's room on May 23 and pulled the curtains closed. The roommate then heard noises that the defendant was having sex with the victim, the complaint alleges. 

During a June 12 interview with a Division of Criminal Investigation agent, Henry Rayhons admitted to having sexual contact with Donna Rayhons on May 23. Henry Rayhons also said he had a copy of the documention regarding his wife's inability to give consent due to her lack of cognitive ability, the complaint alleges.

Donna Lou Rayhons, 78, died on Aug. 8 at the Rehabilitation Center in Hampton. 

Dale Rayhons, son of Henry Rayhons and family spokesman, said in a prepared statement Friday that his father did not sexually abuse Donna Lou Rayhons.

"Accusing a spouse of a crime for continuing a relationship with his spouse in a nursing home seems to us to be incredibly illogical and unnatural, as well as incredibly hurtful," Dale Rayhons said in the statement.

Rayhons announced on Aug. 4 he was withdrawing from this fall's Iowa House race, citing family and health reasons. He also said on Aug. 4 he intended to complete the remainder of his term as representative.

Prior to announcing his withdrawal from the House race, Rayhons was involved in a Hancock County District Court guardianship case involving his wife.

In June, Suzan Brunes of Klemme was appointed in court as the temporary guardian of her mother, Donna L. Rayhons. Brunes' application for guardianship said Henry Rayhons had difficulty following parameters set by Concord Care staff. In the guardianship application, Brunes said her mother had Alzheimer's disease.

The arrest of Henry Rayhons comes the day after Republican delegates in the 8th District selected Terry Baxter of Garner to represent the district on the ballot in the Nov. 4 election.

Hancock County Republican chairman Marv Johnson and Republican Hancock County supervisor Jerry Tlach both said Friday they were shocked to learn of the arrest.

"I just hope everything turns out well," Johnson said. "I hope he's found free of any wrongdoing."

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Rae Yost is editor of the Forest City Summit and Britt News Tribune, other Lee Enterprises newspapers.