Ex-Legislator Denies Having Sex with Wife with Alzheimer's Disease


Testimony in the trial of former Iowa state legislator Henry Rayhons concluded Friday; Rayhons, 78, is charged with felony sexual abuse for allegedly having sex with his wife Donna while she was in a nursing home and in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. On Friday, Rayhons denied having sex with Donna, testifying, “I treated her like a queen.”

According to the Des Moines Register, Rayons said that when he visited his wife on the night of May 23, 2014, they had no sexual contact. He said Donna changed into her nightgown on her own, that he helped her get into bed and that they prayed together. He added, “She was not in any mood to have anything at all.”

The Register also reports that Rayhons testified that Donna had initiated sexual contact a few times before that night, fondling his genitals and asking to “play.” He didn’t consider it having sex, he testified, and he didn’t request it.

In an August interview with an officer from Iowa’s Division of Criminal Investigation, Rayhons admitted to having sexual contact with his wife on May 23. During his testimony Friday, Rayhons said he couldn’t remember some of the things he’d said to the agent and said he didn’t know why he’d said them. He implied that the agent tricked him by pretending to be a reporter and then shouted at him, causing him to, in his words, lose “all brain function for 15 to 20 minutes.” In the same conversation with the DCI agent, Rayhons acknowledged having a copy of the documents from the nursing home staff saying that Donna was unable to give consent “due to her lack of cognitive ability.”

Donna Rayhons’ roommate Polly Schoneman, 86, also testified; she had originally told police that she heard sexual noises from behind a curtain separating their beds. But on Thursday, she testified at first that she “couldn’t say” if the noises she heard were sexual in nature. But the assistant attorney general prosecuting the case asked her “That night, when you were talking to the nurses, you were talking about sexual noises, weren’t you?” and Schoneman replied, “Yes.”

A crime lab expert also testified Thursday that Henry Rayhons’ semen was found on a bed sheet and quilt in Donna’s bed, but said she couldn’t be sure he’d had sex with her on May 23.

The Register also reported that Rayhons “broke down in tears” several times during his testimony, saying, ““I treated her like a queen. She was my queen,” and, “I miss her every day. I will never take her ring off.”

Closing arguments in the case are scheduled to begin today.

Mugshot via Hancock County Sheriff’s Office/AP

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