Edwards trial set for Jan. 15Will face sexual abuse charges for Washington County jail incident
A man accused of raping another inmate in the Washington County Jail has pleaded not guilty to third degree sexual abuse. Rudolph Darnell Edwards, 42, was charged with sexual abuse for an incident that occurred in the jail on July 16, 2011. His trial date has been set for Jan. 15 at 9:30 a.m.
Edwards had an arraignment scheduled for Friday morning at 11 a.m. That arraignment did not take place because his attorney submitted a written arraignment a week early, which included his plea of not guilty and a request for a speedy trial.
Jeffrey Lee Powell, an attorney in Washington, was appointed to be Edwards’s attorney on Nov. 2.
Edwards is accused of committing sexual abuse against Martin Medrano Vargas while both of them were inmates in the Washington County Jail.
In October 2011, the Washington County Attorney’s Office filed a request for a buccal swab of Rudolph Edwards to obtain his DNA.
Washington County Deputy Chad Ellis wrote in the application that the Department of Criminal Investigation had examined the sexual assault kit administered to Medrano and had found DNA belonging to Edwards according to its database. When Ellis requested a buccal swab from Edwards on Oct. 13, 2011, Edwards declined his request.
Edwards was ordered to take a buccal swab sample while in the Washington County Jail on Oct. 20, 2011.
Edwards is currently serving a five-year sentence for willful injury in the Anamosa State Penitentiary. On Oct. 31, he was transported from the Anamosa State Penitentiary to the Washington County Courthouse for his initial appearance, after which he was transported back to the Anamosa State Penitentiary.
On Oct. 26, Washington County Attorney Larry Brock filed a “writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum” for Medrano. The writ would place Medrano in the state’s custody and specifically in the Washington County Jail.
Medrano’s attorney, Nicole Merrill, filed a motion to amend the terms of the writ of habeas corpus on Nov. 2. She wrote that Medrano had experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which were exacerbated by his continued incarceration.
She wrote that Medrano saw two mental health professionals shortly after his alleged assault and both of them confirmed he was suffering from PTSD. She also requested that Medrano be transferred to a neighboring county jail for the duration of his detention in order to ensure the minimal amount of trauma for him.
The two mental health professionals Merrill mentioned were Dr. Siddharth Bajpai of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Brian Simmons of River Hills Behavioral Health.
Bajpai, who works in resident psychiatry, wrote a letter about the incident on Aug. 24, 2011, which read:
“Patient is currently incarcerated in the Washington County Jail, was raped by a fellow inmate in the Washington County Jail on 7/16/2011, has had signs and symptoms consistent with post traumatic stress disorder and adjustment disorder with depressed mood, is currently being treated with medications and psychotherapy to help with these disorders, it is quite likely that he may not be able to receive the appropriate treatment for these disorders if he is made to leave this country. We would request the court to exercise as much leniency as possible to ensure that the patient is able to receive the best treatment available to heal effectively.”