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State v. Haglin

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 2, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MARY ELIZABETH HAGLIN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Kevin McKeever, Judge.

         Mary Haglin appeals from her conviction for sexual exploitation by a school employee.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sheryl A. Soich, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          DANILSON, Chief Judge.

         Mary Haglin appeals from her conviction for sexual exploitation by a school employee, in violation of Iowa Code section 709.15(2), (3)(a)(2), and (5)(b) (2016). Haglin maintains the district court erred in finding in favor of the State on Haglin's motion to adjudicate law points on the issue of whether Haglin met the definition of a "school employee" under section 709.15. Finding no error, we affirm.

         Haglin, a long-term substitute teacher at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, was charged by trial information on September 2, 2016, for sexual exploitation by a school employee, in violation of Iowa Code section 709.15(1), (3)(a)(2), (5)(b) after it was discovered she engaged in a sexual relationship with a seventeen-year-old student for a number of months. Both Haglin and the student confirmed they had a sexual relationship.

         Haglin filed a motion to adjudicate law points on October 17, 2016, arguing, in part, that she did not fall under the definition of a "school employee" for purposes of section 709.15. A hearing was held on the motion to adjudicate law points on November 10. At a November 16 hearing on additional pre-trial motions, the court orally ruled on the motion to adjudicate law points. The court held, "I have reviewed the submissions by the State and by the defendant; I have looked at the statutes and the case law; and it is my conclusion that Ms. Haglin does fit the definition of a school employee under the code."

         Haglin stipulated to a bench trial on the minutes of evidence. At the start of the November 28 bench trial, the court further clarified its ruling on the applicability of the definition of a "school employee" to Haglin:

The second thing I wanted to recap for the record was we had a number of motions, and one of them was a motion to adjudicate law points. I want to make sure that the record accurately reflects that my finding was specifically that-with regard to the law point that involved the definition of school employee as it pertained to Ms. Haglin, that if at the trial the State was successful in providing the things that they alleged in the minutes, it was my determination that they would be able to prove that under Iowa Code section 272.1(7) [(defining "Practitioner")], that Ms. Haglin fit the definition of that subsection and therefore would be determined to be a school employee. Specifically 272.1(7) includes a licensed professional that provides educational assistance to students.

         Upon its review of the evidence, the court found Haglin guilty of sexual exploitation by a school employee, an aggravated misdemeanor, in violation of sections 709.15(2), (3)(a)(2), (5)(b). Haglin now appeals, arguing the court erred in finding she-a substitute teacher-was a "school employee" for purposes of section 709.15.

         "This court reviews a trial court's ruling on a motion to adjudicate law points for correction of legal error." State v. Muhlenbruch, 728 N.W.2d 212, 214 (Iowa 2007). "The appropriateness of the district court's action turns on the correctness of its interpretation of the relevant statutes, which are reviewable for correction of errors at law as well." Id.

         The applicable code section during these proceedings stated a "school employee" "means a practitioner as defined in section 272.1." Iowa Code § 709.15(1)(f).[1] Section 272.1(7) further provides, "'Practitioner' means an administrator, teacher, or other licensed professional, including an individual who holds a statement of ...


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