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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A judge ruled Tuesday that an Iowa City man, who sexually abused an 18-month-old and caused her death by shaking in 1989, will be removed from the Iowa Sex Offender Registry, as he requested last week.
Sixth Judicial District Chief Judge Lars Anderson said Darren Farmer, 50, met all the threshold requirements for modification of the registry requirement imposed for life at his sentencing in 1990.
Anderson said there was no evidence at last week’s hearing, beyond his convictions, that disputed his low risk assessment or that he poses any substantial risk to the community.
“On this record, and under the existing law, the court finds that modification of Farmer’s registration requirement is required,” Anderson said in the ruling.
Farmer is just one of more than 300 since 2014 who have served their prison time and requested to be taken off the registry because they met the threshold requirements.
Lawmakers in 2009 changed the sex offender law — Chapter 692A — by adding the provision for a modification, allowing offenders to be removed from the registry if they meet certain criteria. An Iowa Supreme Court ruling in 2014 gave further guidance to district judges in determining the modifications and increased the number of felons to request the change.
The registry, created by state law to deter repeat offenses, generally requires anyone convicted of a sexually related crime against an adult or a minor to register for 10 years or life, depending on the offense. More than 6,000 people are listed on the state registry.
Farmer, originally charged with first-degree murder and second-degree sexual abuse, was convicted by a Linn County jury in 1990 of lesser offenses — involuntary manslaughter and second-degree sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 30 years.
Farmer was granted work release from prison in 2003, paroled in mid-2003 and discharged from parole in January 2004.
He was required to be on the sex offender registry for life.
Anderson included in his ruling that Farmer had met the modification criteria:
- No further offenses since release
- Completion of sex offender treatment while in prison
- Low risk score on assessment by the Iowa Department of Corrections
- Certain number of years on registry based on classification of risk
- If on parole, must have supervisor’s approval
Anderson, in his ruling, said Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden didn’t present any evidence beyond Farmer’s convictions and the opposition of the victim’s mother.
Vander Sanden argued Farmer posed a potential risk to the community and needed continued monitoring through the registry. However, Anderson said, his statements contradict the validated risk assessments, which consider criminal history.
Also, Vander Sanden couldn’t identify any post-offense during the 30 years since Farmer was convicted to keep him on the registry, Anderson said in the ruling.
Anderson also pointed out the registry wasn’t intended to serve as punishment. Its purpose is to provide protection for the community. In a recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling, the justices said the court can’t consider the nature of the offense because it comes “perilously close to punishment.”
“While the court is very sympathetic to the views and wishes of the victim’s mother, the law simply does not allow the court to deny a request for modification based on her objection, if the evidence otherwise establishes that Farmer is at low risk to reoffend,” Anderson added.
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