August 30, 2015

Arrest made in ISU sexual assault case

Ryan Scott Evans (Story County Jail)

Ryan Scott Evans (Story County Jail)

Iowa State University Police have made an arrest in a sexual assault case. ISU deputy police Chief Aaron DeLashmutt says the investigation was launched two-and-a-half weeks ago when officers were sent to an apartment building leased by the university.

“At approximately 1 p.m. on August 11, ISU Police received a 911 call reporting a sexual assault,” DeLashmutt said. Officers later executed a search warrant at the apartment and collected evidence.

On Friday, the investigation led to the arrest of 26-year-old Ryan Scott Evans of Huxley. He’s charged with three counts of third degree sexual abuse, a class C felony. Evans was booked in the Story County Jail.

Extra officers patrolling I-80, I-35 this weekend

State-Patrol-car-backLaw enforcement officers in 16 states are paying extra attention to Interstates 80 and 35 this weekend. Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Nate Ludwig says the “Border-to-Border Traffic Safety Challenge” runs today through Sunday.

“There will be a significant presence of law enforcement because the idea is to have us out there to get people to slow down and make sure people are wearing safety belts,” Ludwig said. Interstate 80 stretches over 2,900 miles between New Jersey and California, while Interstate 35 covers nearly 1,700 miles between Minnesota and Texas. The two interstates intersect in Des Moines.

“August, over the last five years, has been the deadliest month on Interstate 80 and it’s one of the deadliest for I-35 as well,” Ludwig said. “That’s why this initiative was brought about. The challenge is to reduce fatalities on the interstates over the next three days.” So far this year in Iowa, 203 people have died in traffic crashes. That compares to 193 at this same time last year.

“We’ve had a few fatality accidents that have (killed) multiple people in single vehicles,” Ludwig said. “But, as a whole, I think we’re down 15-percent from the high of the last five years.” The I-80/I-35 Border-to-Border Traffic Safety Challenge coincides with the National Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.


NAACP holds day-long symposium about racial disparities in Iowa prisons

Governor Branstad announced today has formed a new “working group” to address inequities in Iowa’s criminal justice system.

Branstad spoke at a day-long symposium in Ankeny that’s focused on the over-representation of African-Americans in Iowa prisons and Branstad promises his working group will review the racial make-up of juries in Iowa and even how much prison phone calls cost. Peter Wagner with the Prison Policy Initiative said Iowa’s rates are higher than other states.

“The result, then, is to punish the families that are trying to do the right thing by staying in touch,” Wagner said.

Representatives of the NAACP cite statistics showing Iowa has more minorities in prison, per capita, than any other state. Arnold Woods with the Des Moines chapter of the NAACP said it’s not an abstract topic for blacks.

“Each and every one of us here know someone that’s in the system,” Wood said. “If not one of our kindred, it’s one of our church members or one of our sorority or fraternity members. We all know someone who is in the system.”

Carlton Mayers, the criminal justice manager for the NAACP, advocates for the rights of prisoners after they’ve served their time. He’s urging Governor Branstad to make it easier for convicted felons to vote.

“I’m sorry, governor, but I’m going to put you on the spot. We pay taxes. Let us vote,” Mayer said, to applause from the crowd. “This is what the country was founded on. This is what led to the American revolution.”

Former Governor Tom Vilsack issued an executive order in 2005 that restored voting rights to felons after they finished their prison sentences, but Branstad undid that when he took office in 2011. Felons must submit an application to Branstad asking to have their voting rights restored and submit paperwork proving they have paid their court fines and restitution to victims.

Representatives from NAACP chapters from all over the state attended today’s symposium, along with representatives from law enforcement, the courts and the state’s prison system.

(Reporting by Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell)


EPA’s ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Rule goes into effect today in Iowa, but not in 13 other states

A federal judge in North Dakota has indefinitely delayed the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule that was to go into effect today, but the delay applies only in the 13 states that filed a lawsuit challenging the rule. Iowa is not one of those 13 states.

Senator Chuck Grassley says congress will try to keep the EPA from implementing the rules nationwide, “which would be to put an amendment on the appropriation bill for EPA saying none of the money in this appropriations bill can be used to carry out ‘Waters of the U.S.’ and that’s in both appropriations bills of the House and the Senate.”

Grassley says the proposed EPA rules greatly expand the number of streams and creeks in Iowa that would be subject to federal regulation.

“Historically, a navigable river was only meant to cover how far up big commercial ships could go up a river, not streams in Iowa that you can’t even paddle a canoe in,” Grassley says.

Attorney Chris Gruenhagen is the Iowa Farm Bureau’s government relations counsel and her group’s analysis has concluded 97 percent of Iowa now will be subject to EPA and Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction.

“Any water that either flows or stands on your farm or in your backyard if it’s located within 4,000 feet of a tributary and then tributaries are really defined as anything where you can see evidence of water flow,” she says. “So it’s really an all-encompassing definition.” Grunhagen contends that means gullies in a corn field that fill up and drain out during a rain storm would be subject to federal oversight.

A spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency says the Clean Water Rule “is fundamental to protecting and restoring the nation’s water resources.”

Due to the court injunction, the rule will not be implemented in the neighboring states of Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota, but land in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois as well as in Iowa will be covered by the new rule.

(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars & Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)

Charles City school board candidate charged with sexual abuse

Doug Lindaman

Doug Lindaman

A northern Iowa man who’s running for office has run into legal trouble. Charles City School Board candidate — and convicted sex offender — Doug Lindaman was arrested Thursday and charged with third-degree sexual abuse.

According to the criminal complaint filed Thursday, Lindaman is accused of unlawfully and willfully sexually abusing a 17-year-old boy by performing a sex act against his will or by force on or about March, April or May 2011 in Floyd County.

According to the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, he’s being held in the Floyd County Jail without bond until a court appearance this morning. Lindaman’s name will remain on the ballot for Charles City School Board because he has not been convicted of the felony, only charged.

Back in 1988, Lindaman pleaded guilty to two counts of lascivious acts with a child, a felony.

(Reporting by Chris Berg, KCHA, Charles City)


Former Remsen-Union teacher accused of having sex with student

Police-car-backAuthorities in northwest Iowa’s Plymouth County arrested a school teacher this week in a criminal case that’s been under investigation since April.

The investigation revealed that a male student, age 17, attending Remsen-Union Community School, had a sexual relationship with a female teacher employed with the Remsen-Union school district.

Warrants were issued for 24-year-old Samantha Kohls of Remsen. Kohls has been charged with two counts of an employee of a school district engaging in sexual conduct with a student of the Remsen-Union school district. Both counts are aggravated misdemeanors.

 Kohls, who now resides in Cedar Falls, turned herself in to the Plymouth County jail Thrursday, posted bond and was released.

(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)


Drivers urged to watch for school kids, avoid distractions

School-BusMost Iowa schools are back in session and the state’s streets and sidewalks are filled with excited kids in the mornings and afternoons. Rose White, at AAA-Iowa, is cautioning drivers statewide to stay watchful for children on foot as they might suddenly dart into the road.

“AAA is urging all motorists to simply slow down and stay alert in neighborhoods and school zones,” White says, “and be especially vigilant for pedestrians before, during and after school hours.” During 2013, a national study found more than 330 child pedestrians were killed and 13-thousand were injured, with more than half of the deaths happening during the times kids were heading to and from school.

“The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous for walking children,” White says. “Over the last decade, nearly one-third of children pedestrian fatalities occurred between the hours of 3 to 7 P.M.” Speed is a big factor in saving lives. Research finds a pedestrian who’s hit by a vehicle traveling 25 miles-an-hour is two-thirds less likely to be killed than a vehicle traveling at 35.

“In Iowa, there has been a steady decline in pedestrian crashes for all ages groups, but it’s not the case for young pedestrians,” White says. “In 2013, a total of 54 young pedestrians were injured in car crashes. Tragically, three of them lost their lives.”

Another key is to eliminate distractions for drivers. White says to avoid any activities that take even one hand off the steering wheel, and avoid using your cell phone by putting it in a safe place — like the glove box — until you arrive at your destination.