Following Supreme Court ruling, Branstad, Reynolds call for legislative action to protect Iowa students PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 08:39

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today called on the Iowa Legislature, which remains in legislative session, to pass a bill protecting Iowa students from sexual exploitation from a school coach. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday, April 11, 2014, that Iowa law protecting students from sexual exploitation from school employees doesn’t apply to coaches because coaches aren’t “licensed professionals.”

The ruling reads in part, “Although a coach who holds a teaching or other professional license is clearly subject to the statute, a mere holder of a coaching authorization without a professional license within the meaning of section 272.1(7) does not fall under the sexual exploitation statute. Accordingly, we reverse the conviction and remand the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss the case.”

“With the Iowa Legislature still in session, I am calling on the Iowa House and Senate to send a bill to my desk to protect Iowa students from sexual exploitation by school coaches,” said Branstad. “We must ensure our children are safe from those we entrust with our children at Iowa schools.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling went on to say, “As we have traditionally and repeatedly stated, ‘We do not inquire what the legislature meant; we ask only what the statute means.’”

A dissenting opinion stated, “Today’s decision no doubt will surprise school officials, parents, and coaches who had assumed the same law that made it illegal for a teacher to engage in sexual activity with students also applied to coaches. The ball is now in the legislature’s court to amend section 709.15 to close this new loophole.”

“As a mother and grandmother, I want to be able to assure Iowa parents that when their children are at their schools they are safe,” said Reynolds. “The Legislature now has the opportunity to correct the law and protect Iowa’s children from a loophole in state law that surely wasn’t intended.”

The ruling was in the case of State of Iowa vs. Patrick Ryan Nicoletto. The full ruling can be viewed here.

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