Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sentencing in Iowa Incest Case

Often, news coverage of “incest” arrests, convictions, and sentencing is overly terse, preventing us from determining if the law enforcement action is superfluous (applying incest charges when other charges should be enough or should have been filed) or ridiculous (when the sex was consensual).

Here’s another example of such an article, this one out of Iowa.

A former Rockford resident has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for incest.

Now, “incest” can mean everything consensual sex (whether a long term relationship or not) with someone the same age, or the rape of a child. Clearly, these are not the same things.

Michael Scott Featherston, 29, who now lives in Dayton, received a five year sentence each on two counts of incest, according to Floyd County District Court records. The sentences are to be served consecutively.

Featherston was arrested by the Floyd County Sheriff's Office in March 2009.

Following his prison sentence, Featherston will be under supervision as if on parole for 10 years. He is to be placed on the sex offender registry.

Featherston was fined $750, plus a $257 surcharge, on each count. He also was ordered to pay a $200 civil penalty and court costs.

If this was consensual, none of these things should be imposed.

He is to have no contact with the victim or the victim's immediate family members for five years.

That makes me think the victim, if we are talking about something that wasn’t consensual, isn’t in Featherston’s immediate family. Niece? Nephew?

Featherston pleaded guilty in May.

Four counts of second-degree sexual abuse and two additional counts of incest against Featherston were dismissed.

If he abused someone, those should have been the charges that were kept. That those charges were dropped may be an indication that this was consensual. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing. Knowing whether the supposed victim was a minor or adult at the time would help. But we don’t even get that much.
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