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Case No. 17-1539

In re the Detention of Thomas G. Ruthers, Jr.

The State seeks further review after the court of appeals reversed the district court’s judgment finding the respondent to be a sexually violent predator under Iowa Code chapter 229A. The State contends the plain language of section 229A.2(11) permits the State to prove sexual motivation for a sexually violent offense at a civil commitment proceeding. The State further contends a child’s failure to immediately disclose sexual abuse should not prevent the State from relying on that abuse to prove a recent overt act.


Thomas G. Ruthers, Jr., Resister

Attorney for Appellee State

Tyler J. Buller

Keisha F. Cretsinger

Attorney for Resister

Michael H. Adams

Supreme Court

Oral Argument Schedule


Mar 06, 2019 9:00 AM


Supreme Court Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Apr 26, 2019

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Nov 07, 2018

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Mahaska County, Daniel P. Wilson and Joel D. Yates, Judges.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Doyle, JJ.  Opinion by Potterfield, J.  Partial Dissent by Danilson, C.J.  (15 pages)

                Thomas Ruthers Jr. appeals from a judgment finding him to be a sexually violent predator (SVP) under Iowa Code chapter 229A (2011).  Ruthers contends the district court should have granted his motions to dismiss and his motion for summary judgment because he was not presently confined for a “sexually violent offense,” within the meaning of Iowa Code section 229A.2(10)(g), at the time the State filed its petition, and the court similarly erred in finding him to be a SVP.  OPINION HOLDS: Ruthers was not “presently confined”—within the meaning of section 229A.4(1)—at the time the State filed the SVP petition.  Additionally, the act the State alleged was the necessary “recent over act” was no longer “recent” at the time of the SVP commitment hearing.  We reverse the district court’s ruling and remand for dismissal of the SVP action.  PARTIAL DISSENT ASSERTS: I agree with the majority with respect to the conclusion that Ruthers was not presently confined.  I am unable or unwilling to accept that the State can avoid proving a recent overt act simply because Ruthers was unable to post bail.  I part ways with the majority, however, and would affirm on the basis that the State established a recent overt act.

Other Information

Date Further Review is Granted:
Jan 17, 2019

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