Much of the testimony has focused on the wife's deteriorating mental condition.

(Bloomberg Business) — A defiant, emotional and sometimes confused Henry Rayhons—the 78-year-old retired farmer accused of raping his wife, who suffered from dementia—told a jury he did not have sex with Donna Lou Rayhons in a Garner, Iowa, nursing home almost one year ago.

“I did not have intercourse in that particular setting,” he said in response to one of the first questions from his attorney, Joel Yunek.

“Ever?” Yunek said.

“No,” Rayhons replied.

Rayhons, who also served as an Iowa state legislator until last year, is charged with felony sexual assault of his late wife at the Concord Care Center in Garner, a town of 3,100 people in northern Iowa, on May 23, 2014, and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty. There is no evidence that he forced his wife to have sex or that she asked that he not touch her.

The Iowa attorney general’s office says Rayhons had intercourse with Donna when she lacked the mental capacity to consent because she had Alzheimer’s disease. She died Aug. 8, four days short of her 79th birthday, of complications from the disease. One week later, Rayhons was arrested.

To convict him, the jury in the Hancock County courthouse, about nine blocks from the nursing home, must determine that a sex act occurred in Room 12 North and must find that Donna’s dementia prevented her from being able to say yes or no to sex.

The case has offered a rare look into a complex and thinly explored dilemma, first detailed by Bloomberg News. The conflict will arise with increasing frequency as the 65-and-over population expands and the number of people with dementia grows: Can a person with dementia say yes to sex? Many legal experts and experts on the elderly have said the Rayhons case may be the first of its kind in the U.S.

See also: Rape cases raises questions about dementia

Rayhons was a widower for less than a year, and Donna a widow for six years, when they began to flirt while singing in a Catholic church choir in 2007. They married that December. Both their families embraced the union, and they appear to have had a loving courtship and marriage.

“We just loved to be together,” Rayhons testified, breaking down in tears for one of 10 times during three and a half hours of testimony. He wore a charcoal suit that Donna had bought him. “I treated her like a queen. She treated me like a king. I loved her very much. I miss her every day.”

Donna was diagnosed with possible early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2009. Her condition began to worsen markedly in early 2014, according to court documents and testimony. Rayhons clashed with two of Donna’s daughters over her care. She was placed in the Concord Care facility in March 2014.

On May 15, the daughters sat down with Henry and some nursing home staffers to discuss Donna’s care. They handed him a one-page document on which a local physician had written that Donna no longer had the mental capacity to consent to sex. “That’s not a problem,” Rayhons said on an audiotape of the meeting played in court.

The alleged sexual act occurred eight days later. After Rayhons visited Donna in her room that evening, her roommate told nursing home staffers she had heard “sexual” sounds, state prosecutors allege. Prosecutors say Rayhons later admitted to a state investigator that he had intercourse with his wife on that night.

In court, Rayhons said the only sex he had with his wife was before being told about her mental capacity and was initiated by her, in a room she had occupied previously. “Donna would ask me to stand close to her bed and she would unzip my trousers and she would reach in and fondle me,” Rayhons said. He said he never unzipped himself and that his penis remained inside his pants. Sometimes he would become aroused. “I wouldn’t ejaculate but I would leak,” he said.

On the night of the alleged incident, Rayhons said, he left the door open while his wife undressed, put on a floor-length nightgown, and used the bathroom. After he tucked her in bed, she said she wanted to sleep with her head at the other end of the bed and Rayhons rearranged the bedding. “That caused the noise that I think [Donna’s roommate] heard,” he told the jury. He and his wife then prayed one decade of the Rosary that would have been whispered, although Rayhons said, “I’m told I talk too loud.” He gave her a kiss and hugand left for the night, he said.

Rayhons loudly answered “no” to his lawyer’s questions about whether he had groped his wife, touched her vagina or anus, or become sexually aroused. Nor did Donna try to fondle him at that point, he said. “She was not in any mood for anything at all,” he said.

Parts of that account appeared to conflict with what Rayhons told the state investigator who interviewed him at his Garner condo in June. Under questioning by Assistant Attorney General Susan Krisko, Rayhons said he couldn’t remember some of what he told the investigator because the investigator lunged at him “and nearly bit my nose. He dashed me so suddenly and so rudely that I lost all brain function” for a while.

He said he told the investigator he had inserted two or three inches of his penis into Donna’s vagina only after the investigator said it first and that the investigator “had me completely out of my brain.” The remark comes from Rayhons himself in a transcript of a tape of the interview.

“You heard him say things that are not on the tape?” Krisko asked.

“Yes,” Rayhons answered.

Prosecutors have said that stains containing Rayhons’s semen were found on a quilt and a sheet from Donna’s bed. When Krisko asked how semen could get on the bedclothes if Rayhons’s penis was never outside his pants, he said, “I don’t know.”

Over the trial’s eight days, the jury has heard prosecutors portray Rayhons as a sex-hungry man who took advantage of his wife and urged her to get breast implants at the age of 70. Jurors have heard three of Rayhons’s four children describe how their father doted on Donna and would never do anything to hurt her.

Much of the expert testimony has focused on whether Donna’s deteriorating mental condition—wandering the halls at the nursing home, forgetting her daughters’ names, and not knowing how to eat a sandwich—necessarily meant she lacked the capacity to decide whether to have sex. Many experts in dementia say that acute memory loss doesn’t mean a person can’t make decisions about, say, their finances, their health, or even having sex.

See also: Smart at any age

Krisko finished by asking Rayhons if he was aware that Donna lacked the capacity to consent to sex. “I do not know if she had the capacity or not,” he replied. “I just assumed that if somebody asked for it, they had the capacity.” Krisko then asked if Rayhons would have accepted sex simply because Donna asked for it. “No,” he said.

Closing arguments are scheduled for today before Judge Gregg Rosenbladt.

See also: Financial power of attorney: weighing the benefits

Copyright 2018 Bloomberg. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.