Mistrial declared in Roger Ericksen sexual abuse case

News

August 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Fourth District Court Judge Kathleen Kilnoski this (Thursday) afternoon declared a mistrial in the sexual abuse case of 52-year old Roger Allen Ericksen, of Lewis. The decision was made after the jury foreman announced they jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision on the charges against Ericksen.

The foreman was asked by the Judge if any further deliberation, taking a recess and coming back on Friday would be helpful for the jury to reach a unanimous decision on the counts against Ericksen, to which the  foreman replied “No, at this time we’re at an impasse.”

The judge thanked the jury for their deliberations, which took almost 6 hours. Ericksen will remain in the Cass County Jail on $250,000 bond. A second trial date has not yet been scheduled.

Ericksen’s Attorney, Theordore Wonio, refused to comment following the ruling. Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner, who was the Prosecuting Attorney, representing the State of Iowa, said afterward that a mistrial means “It’s as if the current trial did not take place, and the State will have another opportunity to seek to retry the case again.” It’s not clear if the same jury who heard the case this week will be recalled for the second trial, or another jury will assume the role.

Ericksen had been accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year old female who lived in his home as a foster child. He was formally charged on December 13th, 2011, with 46-counts of 3rd degree sexual abuse, two counts of lascivious conduct with a minor and two charges of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse.

The charges were the result of a nearly four and one-half month long investigation that began July 25th, 2011, after authorities received word of the incidents, which reportedly occurred between May 15th, 2011 and July 25th, 2011. The victim claimed she was allegedly sexually assaulted in a swimming pool, the defendant’s car, in her bedroom, and in front of a computer.

During the trial jurors heard from the victim, her step-sister, Department of Human Services and other officials, along with character witnesses for Ericksen, who testified they had no knowledge of any issues in the foster-home run by the man and his wife since 2005. Some of the witnesses characterized the teen as one who told lies to get out of trouble. One even described her as a “drama queen.” Roger Ericksen testified he thought she made up the story in an attempt to get back together with her biological mother.

Evidence presented at the trial included sex toys, at least one of which included the alleged victims’ DNA, but a positive identification could not be made on other DNA found on those same items. And, a nurse who conducted a physical exam of the teen four days after the incidents were reported, said while she found no evidence of a sexual assault, those types of injuries typically heal quickly in a person of that age.

Ericksen’s trial began Tuesday afternoon and concluded Wednesday evening.