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Case No. 22-0390

State of Iowa
v.
Kari Jean Schwartz

Kari Jean Schwartz seeks further review of the court of appeals decision affirming her conviction for sexual exploitation by a school employee, by engaging in a pattern, practice, or scheme to engage in sexual conduct with a former student, a class “D” felony in violation of Iowa Code section 709.15(3)(a) (2009). The court of appeals determined, in part, that even though the jury was wrongly instructed that hugging is sexual conduct per se, the jury instructions as a whole required the jury to make the appropriate findings to determine Schwartz’s guilt.

County:
Buchanan
Trial Court Case No.:
FECR084166

Resister

State of Iowa

Applicant

Kari Jean Schwartz

Attorneys for the Resister

Louis S. Sloven
Israel Kodiaga

Attorney for the Applicant

Melinda J. Nye

Supreme Court

Oral Argument Schedule

Non-Oral

Jan 23, 2024 1:30 PM

Briefs

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
22-0390
Date Published:
Sep 27, 2023
Summary

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Buchanan County, John J. Bauercamper, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Greer, P.J., and Schumacher and Badding, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, P.J.  (19 pages)

            A jury convicted Kari Schwartz of sexual exploitation by a school employee, by pattern, practice, or scheme.  Schwartz appeals the judgment and sentence, arguing (1) there is insufficient evidence she engaged in a pattern, practice, or scheme to engage in sexual conduct with a student; (2) the district court erred in instructing the jury that hugging constituted sexual conduct; (3) the district court wrongly excluded evidence of the school’s contemporaneous investigation that resulted in an “unfounded” finding; and (4) the district court violated her Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when it applied Iowa Code section 907.3 (2022), which prevented the court from deferring judgment or imposing a suspended sentence, without specific jury findings that she was a mandatory reporter and the student was under eighteen years old at the time of the sexual exploitation.  OPINION HOLDS: Substantial evidence supports the jury’s finding Schwartz engaged in a pattern, practice, or scheme to engage in sexual conduct with A.S.  Although the jury was wrongly instructed that hugging is sexual conduct per se, when taken as a whole, the jury instructions required the jury to make the appropriate findings to determine Schwartz’s guilt.  We do not reach the merits of Schwartz’s claim the district court wrongly excluded evidence of the finding of a 2009 investigation.  And Schwartz’s constitutional rights were not violated when the district court concluded it was prevented from deferring judgment or suspending Schwartz’s sentence.  We affirm.

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