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In re C.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 10, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF C.B., Minor Child, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joseph W. Seidlin, District Associate Judge.

         A twelve-year-old child adjudicated delinquent for committing second-degree sexual abuse challenges the constitutionality of the statutory rape provisions.

          Matthew S. Sheeley and Paul L. White, Assistant State Public Defenders, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         Twelve-year-old C.B. repeatedly committed sex acts against his stepsiblings, who were five, eight, and ten years old. The juvenile court adjudicated him as a delinquent for sexual abuse in the second degree based on the age of the other children. C.B. alleges enforcing the strict liability provisions of Iowa's statutory rape statutes violated his right to due process. C.B. also contends those statutes are void for vagueness as applied to him. He further argues he was entitled to a jury trial.

         Because C.B. identifies no defects in the juvenile court process, we decline to reverse on his procedural due process argument. In addition, C.B. fails to show the statute prohibiting sex acts with children under age twelve was unconstitutionally vague as applied to him. Finally, the right to jury trials in delinquency cases has already been foreclosed by our supreme court.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         In the fall of 2013, five-year-old D.S., eight-year-old D.B., and ten-year-old K.B. all reported that C.B., their twelve-year-old stepbrother, had subjected them to unwanted sexual contact. In the case of D.S., C.B. was babysitting when he placed the younger child's penis in his mouth and then C.B. inserted his penis into the five-year-old's rectum. C.B. warned D.S. not to tell their father, but the child soon revealed the incident to his grandfather. C.B. denied the allegations at first, but he eventually admitted to the contact, saying he was angry with D.S.

         When two other stepsiblings, D.B. and K.B., learned they would not be seeing C.B. for a while because "he was in trouble for hurting a little boy, " they disclosed to their mother that C.B. had also sexually assaulted them at their grandmother's house. Eight-year-old D.B. recalled he and C.B. had been taking a bath together, they stood up in the tub, and C.B. inserted his penis into D.B.'s rectum, which was painful. K.B. reported that when she was ten years old, she and C.B. were in their grandmother's bed and C.B. "told her to pull her pants down" and to "lay sideways" before he inserted his penis into her rectum. K.B. planned to testify "this did not feel right to her." According to the minutes of evidence, C.B. also tried to insert his penis into her vagina and "his penis came into contact with her genitalia."

         In February 2014, the State filed a delinquency petition, alleging five counts of sexual abuse in the second degree, class "B" felonies if filed in criminal court, in violation of Iowa Code sections 709.1 and 709.3(2) (2014), based on C.B.'s sex acts against those three children under the age of twelve. Two months later, C.B. filed a motion to dismiss the delinquency petition, alleging the strict liability provisions in Iowa Code chapter 709 violated his right to fundamental fairness ensured by the due process clauses of both the federal and state constitutions. He also alleged the statute was void for vagueness as applied to his situation. The State resisted. The juvenile court held a hearing on C.B.'s dismissal motion, accepting deposition testimony from expert witnesses offered by both sides.

         In July 2014, the juvenile court denied the motion to dismiss. The court believed

as the fact finder at trial, [it] could find that the Child committed sexual abuse under the specific intent offense of Iowa Code § 709.1(1) (the act is done by force or against the will of the other), [1] as well as under the strict liability offense of Iowa Code § 709.1(3) (the other person is a child), thereby rendering the Child's Constitutional arguments moot. . . . The child's motion to dismiss, therefore, is premature until such time as the State has presented its proof at trial.

         C.B. filed a motion to enlarge and amend, arguing the State's delinquency petition limited the theory of adjudication to sexual abuse based on the age of the alleged victims and, as such, the adjudication violated his right to due process. The juvenile court denied C.B.'s motion to reconsider. C.B. unsuccessfully sought an interlocutory appeal on the due process questions. C.B. then demanded a jury trial, which the juvenile court rejected.

         The parties stipulated to adjudication on the minutes of evidence, and C.B. renewed his motion to dismiss. The juvenile court penned a comprehensive and ...

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