Henry Rayhons being embraced by his daughter

Henry Rayhons being embraced by his daughter

After three days of deliberations, a northern Iowa jury has acquitted a former state legislator involved in a sex abuse case that has garnered international attention. Henry Rayhons, 78, was accused of engaging in sexual activity with his wife when she could not consent.

Donna Rayhons had Alzheimer’s and her daughters had placed her in a nursing home in Garner last year. That’s where prosecutors alleged the sex act took place, in her nursing home bed. Henry Rayhons could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison on the felony sex abuse charge.

Rayhons after the verdict.

Rayhons after the verdict.

In tears and surrounded by family, Rayhons briefly spoke with reporters after the verdict was announced. “I have a terrific family and I want to thank them so much for being with me,” Rayhons said.

Rayhons was asked what his family’s support was like through the trial. “It was awesome, they were by my side the whole time,” Rayhons said.

A reporter asked Rayhons what his first thoughts were when the verdict was read. “The truth finally came out,” Rayhons said. The couple were both widowers when they married in December of 2007. Donna Rayhons died in August.

The Iowa Attorney General’s office released the following statement in response to the verdict: “Our office prosecuted this case based on a complaint, thorough law enforcement investigation, and Iowa law. The jury made its decision, which we respect.”

(Reporting at Hancock County Courthouse in Garner by A.J. Taylor, KIOW, Forest City. Additional reporting and editing by Radio Iowa staff.)