GARNER, Iowa (AP) — A former Iowa lawmaker accused of sexually abusing his wife who suffered from dementia says their relationship never centered on sex, according to an interview with investigators that aired during his trial Wednesday.
In the two-hour interview, Henry Rayhons explained how he met his wife and described their relationship to Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation Agent Scott Reger. Rayhons, 78, is on trial for a third-degree sexual abuse charge.
Prosecutors allege Rayhons had sex with his wife, Donna Lou Rayhons, on May 23 at a Garner, Iowa nursing home even though he had been told that his wife was no longer mentally capable of consenting due to dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease. She died in August.
Many older couples experience the hardships of illness, mental decline and living apart, but what happened with the Rayhons has little precedent. The crux of the case is the question of Donna Lou Rayhons' ability to consent. Iowa law defines an act as sexual abuse in the third degree if the two parties are not living together as husband and wife and if one person "is suffering from a mental defect or incapacity which precludes giving consent."
Rayhons said during the June interview that his relationship with his wife was never about sex, but rather worship and companionship.
"I never touched her when she didn't want me to," Rayhons said in the interview.
At first, Rayhons said he never had sex with his wife in the care center, but later told Reger that they might have had sex a few times. He said he might have been in the room with his wife on the day alleged by prosecutors only to pray, but later said he may have briefly had sex with her. Rayhons also said he took a doctor's order that his wife couldn't consent as advice, not as an order.
Joel Yunek, Rayhons' attorney, said early in the trial that his client was talking generally about having sex with his wife. Reger testified Wednesday that he and Rayhons were discussing the night of May 23.
Shortly before the charges were filed against him, Rayhons withdrew from a race to serve a 10th term in the Iowa House.