Simpson avoids retrial

Pleads guilty to sexual abuse charges

Christopher Simpson

A man who had his sexual abuse convictions overturned on a post-conviction relief ruling has avoided a re-trial by pleading guilty to the charges he was facing.

Christopher Simpson, 48, formerly of Fort Dodge, pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree sexual abuse and one count of second-degree sexual abuse during a hearing in Webster County District Court Friday morning.

Under questioning from Judge Thomas Bice, of the 2nd Judicial District, Simpson admitted that he inappropriately touched two teenage boys between the dates of May 1, 2007 and Oct. 31, 2008.

He said the boys were about 14 or 15 years old at the time.

He further pleaded guilty to inappropriately touching a third boy, who was younger than 12 years old, between May 1, 2007 and Aug. 31, 2009.

Back in 2010, Simpson was convicted by a Webster County jury of two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, second or subsequent offense.

Because Simpson had been convicted of sex crimes back in 1991, the 2010 convictions were enhanced and he received two life sentences.

However, earlier this year, the Iowa Court of Appeals overturned Simpson’s convictions based on the testimony of an expert witness during the 2010 trial.

Webster County Attorney Jennifer Benson said that witness “was necessary to explain to the jury how sexual predators groom children to desensitize them to sexual abuse. She did not talk specifically about the fact of Simpson’s case or these victims specifically, but rather explained to the jury how sexual predators desensitized children.”

The court ruled that, in cases of sexual abuse, the child alone needs to convince the jury.

At Simpson’s guilty plea hearing Friday, Susan Krisko, assistant Iowa attorney general, explained to Bice the reasoning behind negotiating the guilty plea with Simpson and his attorney, Charles Kenville.

Krisko said one of the victims, who is now an adult, was hesitant about returning to testify in front of a jury again about the abuse that had happened to him.

Another victim, who is also now an adult, was willing to testify, but Krisko said both he and the victim who was hesitant about testifying both want to put the abuse behind them.

“They have wanted to move on,” Krisko said. “They wanted to go forward with their lives.”

Bice also asked Krisko if the passage of time between the offenses, which happened more than 10 years ago, was a factor in leading to the decision to pursue the plea agreement.

“To try to resurrect a case that old…becomes very difficult for all involved,” Bice said.

Krisko agreed.

“The passage of time, I believe, hinders the prosecution the most,” she said.

Krisko also indicated that there will be victim impact statements that are read at the sentencing hearing, including one from the mother of a victim who is still underage.

Simpson faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on each of the third-degree sexual abuse charges and 25 years in prison on the second-degree sexual abuse charge.

The court indicated that the three sentences would likely run concurrent to each other, meaning Simpson would face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Simpson would have to serve 70 percent of that sentence before being considered for parole.

Simpson’s sentencing is Oct. 23.