CHARLES CITY – A Charles City man who pled guilty to indecent contact with a child and said the victim was lying has lost his appeal in the case.
Jeff Devries, age 53, was charged by Floyd county prosecutors with five counts of sexual abuse in the second degree and five counts of indecent contact with a child. The crimes allegedly took place beginning in June of 2013, with the latest incident as late as August 1, 2014.
On April 20, 2015, DeVries pled guilty to one count of indecent contact with a child as part of a plea agreement in which the State agreed to dismiss the sexual-abuse count and make a sentencing recommendation.
At the plea hearing, DeVries answered “Yes” when asked whether he touched the victim’s buttocks “with the purpose of arousing or satisfying your sexual desire or hers.” The court accepted DeVries’s guilty plea and ordered a presentence investigation (PSI). As part of the PSI, a psychosexual assessment was performed by a psychologist, and DeVries admitted that he became aroused after “accidentally” touching the victim’s buttocks and that on a subsequent occasion he fondled the victim over her clothing. DeVries also said the victim “was a good little story teller” and the situation had been “blown out of proportion.” When discussing the incident with the preparer of the PSI report, DeVries denied that he touched the victim for the purpose of sexual arousal, claimed the information in the minutes of testimony was untrue, said he told the psychologist that he was aroused by the touching because he did not think the psychologist wanted to hear the truth, and accused the victim of lying. The PSI report noted that DeVries may be a good candidate for probation because he had no prior criminal record and could maintain employment and a stable residence.
However, based on the nature of the crime, DeVries’s “complete lack of remorse for the victim, and his denial of responsibility for his behavior in this case,” the reporter opined DeVries “would not be successful in sex offender treatment in the community and/or following the conditions of sex offender probation supervision.” Therefore, he recommended that DeVries be sentenced to two years of incarceration.
A sentencing hearing was held on August 10, 2015. DeVries raised concerns about information contained in the PSI that described conduct that he did not admit to as part of his guilty plea. After a discussion on the record, all parties agreed the court “should only be considering admissions [DeVries] made during guilty plea proceedings or admissions he made to the Presentence Investigation Report preparer or the Psychosexual Report Preparer” related to the charged conduct. Both the State and DeVries agreed to proceed with sentencing with the court stating on the record that it was not considering the uncharged conduct discussed in the PSI report. In pronouncing sentence, the court stated that it went through the PSI report and “basically blocked out the areas that did not conform to the factual basis that were given initially.” The court then noted DeVries’s age, criminal history, employment history, the nature of the offense, and DeVries’s prospects for rehabilitation. The court discussed its concern about DeVries’s options for treatment and rehabilitation outside of prison based on the inconsistencies in the PSI report relating to the charged conduct and the best way to protect society. The court then sentenced DeVries to a term of imprisonment not to exceed two years.
However, the Iowa Court of Appeals concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying DeVries’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea nor in his sentencing. The court affirmed his conviction and sentence. He remains incarcerated at this time.