Arneson appeal fails

James Arneson

James Arneson

A man serving 10 years in prison on sexual abuse charges was denied an appeal by the Iowa Court of Appeals.

James Arneson, 65, formerly of Fort Dodge, appealed his conviction on two counts of third-degree sexual abuse.

Among his reasons for appealing were arguing that there was not sufficient evidence of a sex act and there was insufficient evidence to support the age-disparity element on the second count.

According to the Iowa Court of Appeals’ decision, Arneson argued, “‘[t]he State submitted the case under alternative factual theories, but the verdicts returned were general verdicts,”‘ requiring the state, ‘“to demonstrate that there was sufficient evidence of both factual theories to survive a motion for judgment of acquittal.'”

The court said it was not persuaded by Arneson’s argument of “alternative factual theories.”

“The State charged Arneson with two counts of third-degree sexual abuse, the jury received separate instructions on each count, and the jury signed verdict forms finding Arneson guilty of each count,” the court stated. “The State did not rely on multiple theories under a single count.”

The court also stated that there was sufficient evidence to support the assertion that two sexual acts were committed on the victim.

Arneson also argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove age disparity, which was required to convict on the second count.

To convict, prosecutors had to prove the victim was 14 or 15 years old at the time of the abuse and the defendant was four or more years older.

The victim testified that she was 14 years old at the time of the abuse and that she had known Arneson for most of her life.

Webster County District Court also ruled that “the jury could have deduced that Arneson was four or more years older than” the victim.

The court did not rule on Arneson’s claim of ineffective counsel, saying that claim will be taken up on a post-conviction relief hearing.

Arneson is serving his sentence at the Newton Correctional Facility.

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