Hospers Man Has Conviction Vacated, Case Sent Back To Lower Court For New Trial

Orange City, Iowa — A Hospers man who was convicted of sex abuse in 2019 has had his conviction reversed on appeal.

A Sioux County jury convicted 66-year-old Michael Montgomery of sexual abuse of a child (his granddaughter) but acquitted him of lascivious acts with the same child. Montgomery appealed, arguing both crimes should require proof he sought sexual gratification, an element a1974 case held is not required to prove sexual abuse. Montgomery argues that the 1974 case should be overruled, which would result in the reversal of the sexual abuse conviction as a result of his acquittal on the lascivious acts charges. Montgomery argued during trial that the district court should include an element of sexual gratification to prove sexual abuse and sought a supplemental jury instruction to that effect—the issue decided in the 1974 case. The district court refused to give the supplemental instruction.

Montgomery also argued the district court erred by excluding evidence that another person, a teenager who testified for the State, sexually abused his granddaughter, who simultaneously reported both abusers. The defendant made an offer of proof that the teenager admitted abusing her and that a clinical psychologist would testify his abuse affected her testimony.

In their decision, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the district court erred by excluding evidence of the teenager’s abuse of the complainant. Montgomery should have been allowed to cross-examine the child and the teen about their relationship and to introduce the clinical psychologist’s expert testimony that children may testify falsely to protect an abuser they favor. Montgomery should have been able to argue that the victim was reluctant to get the teenager in trouble.

As a result, the State Supreme Court reversed the district court’s judgement, and sent the case back for a new trial consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion.


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