Sheriff addresses jail rape allegations
Washington County Attorney Larry Brock declined to respond to questions regarding an alleged sexual assault in the Washington County Jail last year, Sheriff Jerry Dunbar did respond, and the court file containing charges was not released.
Brock said that at this time he is not making any statements on the incident. He said that a criminal complaint was filed Aug. 11, 2011. When asked why he had commented to the Des Moines Register on the case, which quoted him several times in a column that appeared in the Oct. 21, 2012 edition, he again declined comment and left the room.
“It’s an active on-going case and we don’t want to prejudice the defendant’s rights,” Brock said. “At this point he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
The full column was reprinted with permission from the Des Moines Register and appears on page 4 of this edition.
The Washington County Clerk of Court’s office declined to give a copy of the complaint to the Journal this morning, citing it was “confidential” and directing questions to the county attorney’s office. Brock said that he did not have a copy of the complaint, but that it had been filed. The charge is third-degree sexual assault.
Dunbar later said that the criminal charges hadn’t been served yet and the clerk of court’s office has a policy not to release documents until after they have been served and a judge approves them. With the sheriff’s department investigation being confidential, and no arrest being made, The Journal was not aware of any of the details of the incident. Following up on a tip in October 2011, the Journal had asked both Dunbar and Brock about an alleged assault in the jail. Dunbar said that he had been asked about a particular time frame that was well after the incident.
The column, written by Rekha Basu for the Des Moines Register, said that Martin Medrano, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, was allegedly raped repeatedly by another inmate while both were housed in the Washington County Jail. Dunbar said that Medrano was being housed for Henry County on a charge of identity theft. The alleged perpetrator, Rudolph Edwards, was being housed for Johnson County on a charge of willful injury, for which he is currently serving time in Iowa prisons.
Dunbar confirmed the incident had taken place. According to the police log, the incident had been reported at 11:45 p.m. on July 16, 2011. He said that there was some information that he couldn’t release because it is an ongoing case.
A search of Iowa Courts On-Line shows Edwards had not been arrested for any sexual crimes. The Iowa Sex Offender registry also had no listing for Edwards.
Dunbar said the arrest charges will be served when Edwards is released. He said this is to keep Edwards from getting credit for time in jail while he is serving a separate sentence.
“We have a good investigation going and we have constant inconsistencies with Medrano’s story,” Dunbar said.
Dunbar denies there is a cover-up of the incident happening. He said that when the complaint was taken, Medrano was taken to the hospital and the sheriff’s department began investigating the incident as a rape case.
“We have sought treatment,” Dunbar said. “We sent him to doctors to have him looked at and evaluated – whatever he needed.”
He said that Medrano had reported the alleged incident about four hours after it had happened. Dunbar said that he was at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics less than three hours after that to be checked out, with the time in between being used for the investigation. He said that the hospital report showed there were no injuries.
Dunbar also said that people who are incarcerated have been known to do anything to get out of jail. While he didn’t state an opinion either way, Dunbar said that there were flaws in Medrano’s story.
The column had also wondered why Brock and Dunbar had refused to give Medrano a U-Visa. Dunbar said that the U-Visa allows the recipient to remain a resident of the United States for five years, whether the defendant is found guilty or not. Dunbar said that the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault had contacted him about that.
“My belief is the only reason they are pushing this U-Visa is to grant him five years of citizenship,” Dunbar said. “I’m not going to do that. There are other ways to bring him to court.”
Dunbar said that he is frustrated that Basu had told only one side of the story. He believes public opinion is that Edwards is guilty based only on Medrano’s statement. He also said that he is going to request Basu be subpoenaed into court, because some of the statements in the column went against some of the things Medrano said during the Washington County interview.
The column said that repeated attempts to contact Dunbar were unsuccessful. Dunbar said last week he was in Des Moines. He said that he had tried to return Basu’s call without success.