On Wednesday, April 22, 78-year-old Henry Rayhons of Iowa who is a farmer and former Republican state legislator was found not guilty of charges that he sexually abused his wife, Donna Rayhons, while she was in a nursing home and suffered from Alzheimer’s. Staff members at the nursing home had advised Rayhons that his wife was cognitively not able to consent to sexual relations. Had Rayhons been found guilty of sexual abuse, he would have faced up to 10 years in prison, according to a news article at the New York Times.
By all accounts, Rayhons and his wife had a mutually loving relationship. In fact, workers at the nursing home said that Donna Rayhons was always happy to see her husband. In court, Henry Rayhons testified that his wife had on occasion initiated sexual contact, however on the date in question no sexual contact had been made. Rayhons was accused of sexually abusing his wife in May of last year, after he drew a curtain around his wife’s side of the room in a shared room at the nursing home. He testified that all that occurred was kissing and holding hands.
Rayhons told the prosecutor in the case that he assumed that someone had the capacity to consent to something if he/she asked for it. He also said that on occasion, his wife would put her hands in his pants and fondle him. Donna Rayhons was 78 years old when she died in August of last year. Henry was arrested following her funeral. The couple married in 2007 after meeting at church, where they both sang in the choir.
Mrs. Rayhons roommate at the nursing home, 86-year-old Polly Schoneman, said that she “heard noises” after Mr. Rayhon pulled the curtain around his wife’s bed that made her uncomfortable, although she was not sure the noises were of a sexual nature. A rape kit used in examination at a hospital did not reveal that Mrs. Rayhons suffered any injury, and did not provide proof of intercourse.
Michigan sex crime attorneys understand that even when a couple is married, one partner may be charged with a sex crime when the alleged “victim” is cognitively impaired and therefore unable to give consent. In Michigan, a person may be charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct when penetration occurs, and the alleged victim is mentally incapable and suffers personal injury. This is a life offense in the state, as someone who is found guilty may be sentenced to up to life in prison.
As in this case, matters regarding sexual relations between spouses can be extremely sensitive. Regardless of whether the charges you face involve a spouse, partner, or even a complete stranger, it is critical to work with a highly experienced Michigan sex crimes lawyer who will protect your legal rights, and develop a solid legal strategy in an effort to minimize the damage to your life.