(Bloomberg Business) — An Iowa jury found 78-year-old Henry V. Rayhons not guilty of raping his wife, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about two days before finding Rayhons did not sexually assault his wife, Donna Lou, in her room at a Garner, Iowa, nursing home on May 23, 2014.
Rayhons, a retired farmer and former state legislator, embraced his family and broke down in tears after Judge Gregg Rosenbladt read the verdict.
“The truth finally came out,” Rayhons said shortly after the verdict was returned, the Des Moines Register reported. He said his late wife, who died last year, was with him throughout trial.
Rayhons’s son Dale Rayhons said in a phone interview, “It’s fantastic. We’re just so ecstatic.” He said his family was told earlier this afternoon that the jury had reached a stalemate but the judge said deliberations would continue.
Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, said, “Our office prosecuted this case based on a complaint, thorough law enforcement investigation, and Iowa law. The jury made its decision, which we respect.”
The case has gotten global attention because it’s believed to be the first in which a jury has considered when a person with dementia loses the mental ability to consent to sex. It’s a dilemma that’s likely to become more common as the 65-and-over population of the U.S. expands and the number of people with dementia grows. The case has offered a rare look into a complex and thinly explored dilemma, first detailed by Bloomberg News.
The jury made no comment about the verdict, so it’s not known what it determined about Donna’s capacity to consent.
Rayhons was arrested Aug. 15, one week after Donna, also 78, died of complications from Alzheimer’s. Prosecutors said Rayhons had sexual intercourse with Donna inside Room 12 North of the Concord Care Center last May.