GARNER, Iowa (AP) — A former Iowa lawmaker accused of sexually abusing his wife who suffered from dementia testified Friday that he and his wife held hands, prayed and kissed at her nursing home on the evening in question, but that they had no sexual contact.
Henry Rayhons, 78, testified in his own defense, saying any sounds that his wife's former roommate heard at the nursing home that day in May were just him situating his wife in her bed. His wife, Donna Lou Rayhons, died in August.
"She was my queen," he testified. "I miss her every day. I will never take her ring off."
Prosecutors allege Rayhons had sex with his wife that day at the facility in Garner after being told she was no longer mentally capable of consenting. Rayhons is charged with third-degree sexual abuse, and if convicted could face up to 10 years in prison.
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."
Dr. Robert Bender, a geriatrician with Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, also testified for the defense Friday, saying a cognitive test in which patients are asked basic questions doesn't measure parts of the brain that enable people to feel sexual desire. Bender never treated Donna Lou Rayhons, but said he has treated several other Alzheimer's patients.
Donna Lou Rayhons' doctors previously testified that her score of zero on that test indicated severe impairment.
Earlier testimony revealed that his wife's roommate couldn't be sure whether the noises she heard that day were sexual in nature, but she said they made her uncomfortable.
Prosecutors have said investigators found DNA evidence on sheets and a quilt in his wife's room. They also played a recorded interview with an investigator that showed Rayhons initially said he and his wife never has sex at the nursing home but later said they had a few times, and possibly briefly on the day in question.
Rayhons, who served nine terms in the Iowa House, testified Friday that he didn't have sex with his wife that day, adding: "She was not in any mood to have anything at all."
The defense rested its case Friday. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.