Iowa News

Iowa softball coach convicted of 4 counts of sexual abuse
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — A western Iowa youth softball coach accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old friend of his daughter has been convicted of four counts of sexual abuse. The Omaha World-Herald reports that 47-year-old John Osborn, of Council Bluffs, was found guilty Thursday of third-degree sexual abuse in a nonjury trial. He faces up to 40 years in prison at his May 1 sentencing hearing. Council Bluffs police say the girl and Osborn began exchanging text messages in June and had phone conversations about sex. Court documents show the girl reported that she and Osborn engaged in sexual acts in July when the girl stayed at Osborn's house for a sleepover with his daughter. Osborn has denied willingly touching the teen and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Many 2016 GOP hopefuls coming to Iowa party dinner
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Nine GOP presidential hopefuls will attend a dinner hosted by the Republican Party of Iowa in May. The party announced the lineup for the annual Lincoln Dinner Thursday. The confirmed speakers are: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Doctor Ben Carson, businesswoman Carly Fiorina and real estate magnate Donald Trump. The dinner is scheduled for May 16th at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. In a statement, Party Chairman Jeff Kauffman called the dinner an "opportunity for our distinguished guests to set themselves apart."

Medical marijuana bill moves ahead in Iowa Senate
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An effort to expand access to medical marijuana in Iowa is moving forward in the Democratic-majority Iowa Senate, though it is unlikely the bill will find favor in the Republican-controlled House. The Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would make medical marijuana available to people with a number of chronic diseases, including cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Those approved by a doctor could then purchase marijuana products produced in Iowa at state-run dispensaries. Last year, the Legislature approved a law that allows some residents with epilepsy to use oil with an ingredient derived from marijuana for treatment. But the law did not establish an in-state program for the production and distribution of the oil. Critics say that as a result, the law is effectively useless.

APNewsBreak: Branstad appointee faces conflict over pipeline
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Governor Terry Branstad's pick to chair the Iowa Utilities Board is acknowledging she has a potential conflict in a hotly-contested case on whether to build a major oil pipeline. Geri Huser's brother has represented farmers who oppose the $3.8 billion pipeline that would transport crude oil from North Dakota across Iowa. In December, he sent a letter to the board objecting to the project on letterhead listing his sister as one of the firm's attorneys. Huser said Thursday she knew that her brother was representing landowners facing eminent domain, but was unaware it was linked to the pipeline. She said she didn't know about the objection letter until The Associated Press inquired. Huser says she hasn't decided whether she'd be able to participate or if she'll have to step aside.

Iowa regents director in running for North Dakota chancellor
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The executive director of the Iowa Board of Regents is a finalist for a higher education job in North Dakota. A search committee reported Thursday that Robert Donley is one of eight finalists for the next chancellor of the North Dakota University System. Donley has been the top staff member since 2008 for the board that governs Iowa's three public universities. He applied for the North Dakota position last week, writing that he believed his "experience on a state and national level" can benefit its higher education system and citizens. Donley declined comment Thursday, but acknowledged his candidacy through a spokeswoman. Leaving Iowa could cost Donley a bonus. The regents approved a two-year, $125,000 deferred compensation plan if Donley's on the job August 31st, 2016. He earns about $160,000 annually.

Dubuque man charged in attempted abduction of 11-year-old
DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Police say a Dubuque man has been arrested and charged in connection with the attempted abduction of an 11-year-old girl while she was walking home from school. The Telegraph Herald reports 20-year-old Robert L. Robbins was arrested Wednesday and charged with third-degree kidnapping. He remains in custody at the Dubuque Law Enforcement Center on $50,000 bond. Police say the girl walked past Robbins' house on her way home from school when he began following her, grabbed her by her coat and led her to a nearby shed. According to a police complaint, Robbins said he intended to have sex with the girl and that she was frightened throughout their interaction. Robbins has been assigned a public defender, but a specific attorney hasn't yet been appointed to his case.

Trial of man accused of 2 Iowa murders moves to Sioux City
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — The trial of a 20-year-old Denison man accused of slaying two elderly people and trying to burn their bodies has been moved to Sioux City. A judge on Wednesday announced that the trial of Jayden Chapman will take place April 28th in Woodbury County District Court. He is charged with first-degree murder and second-degree arson in the murders of 80-year-old Marvin Huesling and 81-year-old Alice Huisenga. Another man, 26-year-old Michael Schenk, was sentenced earlier this month to two consecutive life terms in prison in connection with the murders. The Sioux City Journal reports that a change of venue was ordered prior to Schenk's trial. Authorities say Schenk and Chapman shot the pair at a trailer home in Deloit in March 2014 and then set it on fire.

Oleson Park Zoo's future remains uncertain after meeting
FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — A public session held in Fort Dodge on Wednesday affirmed that the future of Oleson Park Zoo remains unclear. The Messenger reports that it was revealed at a meeting with residents, city officials and Friends of the Oleson Park Zoo representatives that there is no plan to upgrade the zoo or an estimate how much such a plan may cost. A city councilman said that the Friends of the Oleson a volunteer group that manages the animal attraction, and the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission are currently working together on a plan after a period of divisiveness. Lori Brandenhorst, the city's director of parks, recreation and forestry, said that she and her staff will meet Friday to discuss the results of an online survey about the zoo. She says she expects to make a recommendation to the commission in mid-April and to the City Council in late April.

Mulkey, Lady Bears confident as ever entering Sweet 16
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Led by Hall of Fame coach Kim Mulkey, Baylor enters its matchup in the women's NCAA Tournament against Iowa as confident as ever. The No. 2 seed Lady Bears (32-3) reached their seventh straight Sweet 16 with wins over Northwestern State and Arkansas last weekend. Baylor will next face the third-seeded Hawkeyes (26-7) in Oklahoma City on Friday night, with the Lady Bears trying to reach the Elite Eight for the fifth time in six seasons. Big 12 Conference Player of the Year Nina Davis leads Baylor, while Iowa — making its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1996 — is led by senior point guard Samantha Logic.

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