Schiefer guilty of sexual abuse, burglary

BY SAM LANE | MARCH 11, 2010 7:30 AM

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Jonathan Schiefer’s wife said she was “shocked” by the guilty ruling issued Wednesday in her husband’s sexual-abuse and burglary case.

Sixth District Judge Ian Thornhill read the decision as a large crowd gathered inside a small Johnson County courtroom. Among those in attendance were Schiefer’s accuser, her family, and the case’s investigators.

The 34-year-old continually shook his head and closed his eyes as Thornhill read the ruling. When the judge finished, Schiefer stood silent and stone-faced as two sheriff’s deputies handcuffed and walked him out of the courtroom. Schiefer’s mother sobbed loudly as her son was led away.

Schiefer had intent when he entered the home of a former University of Iowa student and sexually assaulted her in April 2008, Thornhill ruled.

The trial, which lasted four days, had ended March 4.

Dawn Schiefer, now 36, said she and her husband moved to Arizona roughly a year ago to protect her children after authorities arrested him. She said members of the media — as well as the public — attempted to contact her family and go to her house.

“It was so ridiculous,” Dawn Schiefer said. “It was a violation of my privacy and my children’s privacy.”

Later, she said she’s “disgusted” with the justice system.

Last week, Schiefer testified that a mixture of medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, alcohol, and marijuana caused him to not think clearly when the incident occurred.

Assistant Johnson County prosecutor Anne Lahey said she agreed with the ruling.

“We felt the verdicts were consistent with the evidence,” she said. “We had a courageous victim and excellent police work.”

Defense attorney Davis Foster declined to comment.

Outside the courtroom, the accuser and her family shared tearful embraces while they thanked Lahey and the police investigators.

“This is why we do what we do,” said Iowa City police Detective David Gonzalez, walking out of the courthouse. “Right here. This is it.”

Before the trial, Schiefer and his attorney decided to waive Schiefer’s right to a jury, something experts say is rare.

“The more normal defense wisdom is to not waive the jury,” said UI law Professor Aya Gruber. “There are cases in which it’s a very sensitive, complex subject matter. I would say it’s unusual.”

First-degree burglary and third-degree sexual abuse are punishable by 10 and 25 years, respectively.

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