Public Safety

Jury returns mixed verdict following weeklong sex abuse trial

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Linn County jury returned a mixed verdict this week in a case involving a Hartley man and sexual abuse charges involving two girls under the age of 12.

Following a weeklong trial that ended Wednesday, the jury found Timothy M. Fontenot, 50, guilty of the two counts of indecent contact with a child, according to Assistant Linn County Attorney Jordan Schier.

He faces up to two years in prison on each count and up to 10 years of special probation upon his release. Additionally, Schier said, Fontenot could be required to register as a sex offender.

The jury failed to reach a verdict on the two counts of second-degree sexual abuse against Fontenot and acquitted him on two counts of indecent contact.

Schier said he believes a sticking point for the jury likely stemmed from some confused or contradictory testimony from one of the victims, which called into question the clarity of her memories.

Fontenot originally was charged with two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, a Class B felony, and four counts of indecent contact with a child, an aggravated misdemeanor.

The charges stem from incidents between Aug. 1, 2012, and July 14, 2016, at a residence in Marion, according to the criminal complaint.

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Assistant County Attorney Jordan Schier said the sexual abuse charges and two of the indecent contact counts stemmed from incidents involving one of the girls, while the remaining two counts involved a second child who was subjected to inappropriate touching.

Court documents show the girls described to police how Fontenot sexually abused them, “sometimes the presence of the other, over an extended period of time, when they were under the age of 12.”

The girls told police that Fontenot “referred to the sexual contact as ‘tickle time,’ ” the complaint states.

During their investigation, police said they obtained copies of Facebook messages and text messages between the girls and Fontenot that supported the girls’ accounts.

As for the two counts of sexual abuse,

Schier said it’s possible Fontenot could be tried again on the sexual abuse charges.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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