An accusation of sexual abuse of a child in Iowa will result in a DHS investigation. Iowa DHS defines child sexual abuse as follows:
“Sexual abuse” is defined as the commission of a sexual offense with or to a child pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 709, Iowa Code section 726.2, or Iowa Code section 728.12, subsection 1, as a result of the acts or omissions of the person responsible for the care of the child.
Notwithstanding Iowa Code section 702.5, the commission of a sexual offense under this paragraph includes any sexual offense referred to in this paragraph with or to a person under the age of 18 years.
There are several sub-categories of sexual abuse:
- First degree sexual abuse
- Second degree sexual abuse
- Third degree sexual abuse
- Detention in a brothel
- Lascivious acts with a child
- Indecent exposure
- Assault with intent to commit sexual abuse
- Indecent contact with a child
- Lascivious conduct with a minor
- Sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist
- Sexual exploitation of a minor
- Sexual misconduct with offenders and juveniles
Behavioral indicators of sexual abuse could include things such as excessive knowledge of sexual matters beyond their normal developmental age or seductiveness. Physical indicators of sexual abuse could include things such as Bruised or bleeding genitalia, venereal disease, or even pregnancy.
There are specific physical examination procedures used in child abuse. For instance, in the evaluation of sexual abuse, the colposcope provides for a taped copy of that examination. That copy alleviates the need then for the child to be subjected to further examinations.
There are a great many sexual abuse accusations made in Iowa each year against parents, step-parents, and others in a care giver role for children. In my experience as an attorney who has represented many clients in such cases, the investigation procedure utilized by Iowa DHS often results in a person being falsely indicated as a child sexual abuser. Indeed, it is my experience that most people accused of such an offense are factually innocent of wrongdoing.
The reasons for such false accusations are many. Sometimes, the accusation is made by the other parent as part of a scheme to gain an advantage in a child custody case. Other times, the accusation is made up by the child to try and get a person the child does not like (e.g. a new boyfriend) out of the picture. Still other times, a care giver such as a daycare operator will misunderstand a child’s statement and report it to DHS as abuse. Regardless of the reason, a false accusation of child sexual abuse can be a devastating event for a person.
Any person who is accused or suspected of child sexual abuse by Iowa DHS is well advised to exercise their right to remain silent and seek an attorney at once. Properly handling such a case is vital to avoid a founded report that can cause lasting harm to a person’s employment and ability to be around children, criminal charges that can result in a lengthy prison term, and other significant problems in life.