Under Iowa Code section 709.15, the crime of Sexual exploitation by a school employee occurs when any of the following are found:
a. A pattern or practice or scheme of conduct to engage in any of the conduct described in paragraph “b”.
b. Any sexual conduct with a student for the purpose of arousing or satisfying the sexual desires of the school employee or the student. Sexual conduct includes but is not limited to the following: kissing; touching of the clothed or unclothed inner thigh, breast, groin, buttock, anus, pubes, or genitals; or a sex act as defined in section 702.17
A violation of subsection (a) is a Class D felony, punishable by a 5 year prison term. A violation of subsection (b) is an aggravated misdemeanor, which can result in a 2 year prison term. Iowa law is rather unusual in respect to Sexual exploitation by a school employee charges in that the more serious D felony charge is based upon a school employee allegedly engaging in a “pattern or practice or scheme of conduct” to commit sexual contact with a student, while the actual alleged sexual conduct is charged as a less-serious Aggravated Misdemeanor.
The Iowa Supreme Court in the case of State of Iowa v. Brent Michael Romer issued what is the leading court decision on the Sexual exploitation by a school employee law. That decision broadly interpreted who qualifies as a “school employee” and who qualifies as a “student” for that sake of Iowa law. The Romer decision also broadened the definition of “sexual conduct” to the point a school employee can violate the law in Iowa without making physical contact with a student.
Handing an Iowa Sexual exploitation by a school employee charge properly is vital, due to the complexity of the area of law, the significant potential criminal penalties, and the other possible consequences such as loss of employment. For that reason, a person facing a Sexual exploitation by a school employee charge is well advised to remain silent and seek an attorney at once.