116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — A 51-year-old Iowa City man faces life in prison without parole after being convicted of sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl in 2018.
A Johnson County jury last week deliberated over two hours before finding Andrew J. Harrison guilty of second-degree sexual abuse, with enhanced penalty because Harrison has a previous conviction of lascivious acts with a child.
According to testimony, Harrison babysat the toddler from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 15, 2018. Later that night, the child told her mother about being sexually abused. She described what the man did to her.
The mother immediately took the child for a physical exam and evidence was collected, according to testimony. Harrison’s DNA was found on the toddler’s clothing and her body.
The child was found incompetent to testify because of her age, and the interview at UnityPoint Health Child Protection Center also couldn’t be played for the jury. In order to play the videotaped interview, the child would have had to testify so the defendant could question her.
The mother, however, testified, and the DNA evidence was allowed at trial.
Assistant Johnson County Attorney Rachel Zimmermann Smith said Harrison stipulated to the previous conviction in 1996, so additional evidence wasn’t needed to prove that conviction.
This was the first serious felony tried in the Johnson County Courthouse since the coronavirus pandemic started.
Zimmerman Smith said adjustments had to be made, such as questioning jurors in several small groups to maintain social distancing and spreading out jurors in the gallery, where spectators usually are seated. She said jury selection took about 2-1/2 days, but jury selection typically can be more than one day for sexual abuse and other serious felonies.
In addition to prison time, Harrison will be ordered to be on the sex offender registry and serve a special sentence of parole for life.
His sentencing is set for May 24 in Johnson County District Court.
Comments: (319)-398-8318; firstname.lastname@example.org