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Accused abuser: I didn’t touch boy

BY SAM LANE | FEBRUARY 10, 2010 7:30 AM

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A former counselor at Lemme Elementary never touched the boy who accused him of doing so, he testified Tuesday.

At the end of the second day in Donald Clark’s second-degree sexual-abuse trial, both attorneys gave their closing statements. The jury did not return a verdict.

Clark took the stand Tuesday to give his testimony regarding sex acts he allegedly performed on a then-10-year-old in the spring of 2004.

Clark spoke confidently as attorneys raised questions about his professional life and the alleged incident.

“I was the man who had to wear a lot of hats,” he said about his time in the Iowa City School District.
Part of his duties in the district included acting as a sex-education teacher. It was in this capacity that he first became familiar with the alleged victim, he said.

Following Clark’s interaction with the alleged victim — which occurred during his fifth- and sixth-grade years — he heard nothing about the boy until he got a call from Iowa City police Detective Donald John Steva.

Clark said he thought the call was normal, because he had received calls before asking about students. But Steva told Clark there had been an allegation of inappropriate touching.

“It’s not a call I’m going to forget,” Clark said before pausing to contain his emotion.

In a subsequent interview between Steva and Clark, the detective asked the defendant why the alleged victim would lie. Clark, a gay man, guessed that it could have had something to do with the alleged victim’s sexuality.

“I know it was very hard. I believe I told Detective Steva that they often blame someone they trusted,” he said.

In assistant Johnson County prosecutor Anne Lahey’s cross-examination of Clark — the defense’s first and only witness — she asked a number of questions about Clark’s knowledge of abuse cases. Clark said he couldn’t give statistics about the tendencies.

Following a recess after Clark’s testimony, each attorney gave closing statements.

“We want to believe this didn’t happen,” said Lahey, who spoke first. “Why? We want to believe we’re protected in our own lives.”

Defense attorney John Robertson also spoke.

“Are you convinced that the doubt is the kind that would make a reasonable person hesitate?” Robertson said as he strolled around the courtroom. “If you hesitate, you must acquit.”

Robertson met with the defendant and his family after the courtroom cleared. Clark was crying.

The jury may return a verdict today.


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