The Iowa Supreme Court has overturned the 25-year prison sentence of a man who was convicted of statutory rape for having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend in January of 2006. Jordan Bruegger was 21-years-old when he was charged and then found guilty of third-degree sexual abuse, commonly know as statutory rape, for the encounters with his teen girlfriend in Sioux County.
Breugger’s sentence was raised from a maximum of 10 years to a mandatory 25 years because he had a prior sexual offense in Minnesota when he was 12-years-old. The sentence would require him to serve 21.25 years before he would be eligible for parole. The district court judge said he felt the sentence was “harsh” but he had no choice under the law. Brueger filed an appeal saying the 25-year prison term was cruel and unusual punishment.
The Iowa Supreme Court overturned the sentence, saying Bruegger committed a serious crime for which legislators may impose a serious penalty and the do not believe that Bruegger’s prior conviction as a juvenile is irrelevant to his sentence. The High Court said however, their sole concern was whether under the facts and circumstances requiring Bruegger to serve 21.25 is “off the charts.” The court sent the issue back to the district court for a new sentencing hearing.
Justices Mark Cady and David Wiggins dissented from the decision. Cady wrote that the decision of the majority “will only permit the courts to substitute their judgment for that of the legislature in cases to follow. This approach is contrary to the principles of judicial restraint and separation of powers.”
See the entire Iowa Supreme court ruling here: Breugger ruling PDF.