GARNER, Iowa (AP) — Jurors went home Monday following an afternoon of deliberating the case of a former Iowa lawmaker accused of sexually abusing his wife, who suffered from dementia.
They will continue deliberating at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Prosecutors say Henry Rayhons had sex with his wife at a nursing home May 23 after being told she was no longer mentally capable of consenting. Rayhons, 78, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of third-degree sexual abuse.
During Monday's closing arguments, Rayhons' attorney Joel Yunek warned jurors that a guilty verdict could have widespread implications for spouses in similar situations and set an unwarranted precedent.
"The decision that you make here will be debated, discussed, followed for years," Yunek said.
But Assistant Iowa Attorney General Susan Krisko argued that if Rayhons is acquitted, others with dementia could be at risk of sexual abuse.
"This is not you saying every Alzheimer's patient is going to be governed by this set of rules," she said. "... We don't have to make him a monster. He is a man who made a choice. That choice impacted someone else's rights and therefore he committed a crime."
The case centers on the question of when a person is no longer capable of giving consent for sexual relations. 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, who served nine terms in the Iowa House, testified Friday that he and his wife had no sexual contact on May 23. His wife, Donna Lou Rayhons, died in August.