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Everson guilty of assault, prosecutors look into Satterfield’s plea deal

BY HAYLEY BRUCE | JANUARY 21, 2011 7:10 AM

Rob Johnson/The Daily Iowan
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After 10 hours of deliberation, a Johnson County jury found former Hawkeye football player Cedric Everson guilty of simple assault Thursday, the lowest possible charge on the table. The 21-year-old was cleared of all sexual-abuse charges.

Now, Johnson County prosecutors are considering re-evaluating their plea deal with Everson’s former teammate Abe Satterfield, who agreed to testify against him in exchange for lesser charges, Johnson County prosecutor Janet Lyness said.

The jury of four women and eight men decided to convict Everson of the simple misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of no more than 30 days in jail. Everson was originally charged with second-degree sexual abuse, which holds a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. Even after the judge reduced charges to third-degree sexual abuse after the state’s case-in-chief, Everson faced up to 10 years in prison.

The verdict comes more than three years after Everson and Satterfield were accused of sexually assaulting a former Iowa athlete in an unoccupied Hillcrest dorm room.



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As 6th District Judge Paul Miller read the verdict, defense attorney Leon Spies kept a hand on Everson’s back, and 25 spectators watched and listened in anticipation. Everson, wearing a lilac-striped sweater, sat with tense shoulders, a drastic change from his calm demeanor throughout the two-week long trial.

Following the announcement, Everson’s family members stood and took turns hugging him. His mother-in-law, Regina Clark, wiped a tear from her eye.

“It’s really good news … I’m just glad it’s all over with,” Everson said. “I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m just happy to go home.”

The verdict was the one Everson’s family expected, his sister, Reese Everson, said.

“[We] are glad to have him back with us so he can begin the next chapter of his life,” she said. “And so we can begin the next chapter of our lives.”

Satterfield, 22, was originally charged in connection with the October 2007 incident; he later pleaded guilty to assault with intent to inflict serious injury in exchange for his testimony against Everson.

“I acted with the intent to cause serious mental anguish to the protected party, and my actions were insulting or offensive to the protected party,” Satterfield stated in a plea agreement obtained by the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

But during the trial, Satterfield — who is set to be sentenced today — testified, the woman was indeed the aggressor and, as far as he knew, nothing happened between Everson and the alleged victim the night of the incident. Miller twice referred to Satterfield as Spies’ “best witness.”

But Spies said Satterfield’s testimony was not the only reason for the verdict.

“I don’t know about talk of him being our most helpful witness, but I think he was an important ingredient,” Spies said.

Mark Osler, professor of criminal law at the University of St. Thomas, said plea agreements typically include a proffer, where an attorney sits down with the potential witness to discuss the terms of the plea.

But Osler said they can also be risky.

“The person that is going to be most dangerous is the person who says something like he said in the proffer but says something slightly different,” he said. “There you can’t really say the person was lying, but he can still undermine your case.”

All 12 jurors declined to comment on their decision.

Prosecuting attorney Anne Lahey wasn’t present Thursday and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Karla Miller, the executive director of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, said just because Everson was not convicted of third-degree sexual abuse doesn’t mean the alleged abuse did not occur.

“I think one of the biggest mistakes is that just because the jury didn’t find that the case was presented beyond a reasonable doubt does not mean it didn’t happen exactly as the victim said,” Miller said.

Everson told The Daily Iowan he is looking forward to spending time with his wife and 10-month-old at home in Atlanta.

The former Iowa defensive back said he also has plans to return to football.

“He has some really good options, so we will carefully look at those options,” Reese Everson said. “Much more carefully than last time.”


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