At approximately 1:00 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, a Johnson County jury returned its verdict in the sexual abuse trial of Cedric Everson, a former University of Iowa football player. Mr. Everson was acquitted of the sexual abuse allegations but was convicted of simple assault, a simple misdemeanor. The verdict left many wondering how the case starts out as felony sexual assault but ends up simple assault.
Mr. Everson was initially charged with sexual abuse in the 2nd degree, a Class B forcible felony requiring 25 years in prison if he were convicted. After the State's evidence was concluded, the defense moved for Judgment of Acquittal on all charges but focused its attack on the most serious charge, sexual abuse in the 2nd degree. Sexual abuse in the second degree can occur in a number of different situations but the allegation against Mr. Everson was that he aided and abetted Abe Satterfield in the commission of a sex act on the victim using force against her will. The allegation in essence was one of "gang rape." The "aiding and abetting" allegation was the focus of the defense's request for that charge to be dismissed. Ultimately the judge concluded that even taking the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution as he is required to do at that stage of the proceeding, the evidence failed to establish the essential elements of sexual abuse in the 2nd degree. That being the case he was required to dismiss that charge.
The dismissal of the most serious charge was not the end of the case however. Anytime a defendant is charged with an offense such as sexual assault, there are multiple levels of that charge (1st, 2nd, 3rd degree). Charging a person with a higher level of an offense also charges them with all of what are called, lesser included offenses. In Mr. Everson's case the "lesser included" charges included sexual abuse in the third degree, assault with intent to commit sexual abuse and simple assault. With the sexual abuse in the second degree dismissed the case was then argued to the jury on the remaining sexual abuse in the third degree and lesser offenses of that. The allegation for this charge was then that Mr. Everson committed a sex act against the victim by force or against her will or that she was in a condition rendering her incapable of consenting, i.e. drunk.
The allegation that a defendant had sex with an intoxicated person who was incapable of consenting due to intoxication is a difficult one to disprove. See prior blog, "An Allegation Impossible to Disprove." However, Mr. Everson's defense attorney did an excellent job of reminding the jury and emphasizing the fact that just because someone claims not to remember, does not mean that they were incapable of consenting at the time. The jury obviously found the evidence insufficient to convict Mr. Everson of this charge as well.
Ultimately the jury concluded that the State proved that Mr. Everson committed simple assault. Simple assault is defined as: "Any act which is intended to cause pain or injury to, or which is intended to result in physical contact which will be insulting or offensive to another, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act." Given the allegations against Mr. Everson one is curious how the jury could return a verdict of guilty on an offense that did not include a sexual element to it but their verdict stands as given. Mr. Everson is now facing sentencing on a simple misdemeanor which carries the possibility of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $625. Because the conviction was for a non-sexual offense, Mr. Everson will not be required to be placed on the sexual abuse registry.