IA High Court Upholds Conviction of Pella Pastor for Sexual Misconduct

Iowa case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: criminal law, clergy sexual misconduct.

State of Iowa v. Patrick Edouard. IA criminal law, clergy sexual misconduct

Patrick Edouard was the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa, from 2003 until 2010. By all accounts, his sermons were excellent.

In 2005, a female member of the congregation who was contemplating international adoption visited Pastor Edouard at his home. At some point, the two went to the pastor's home office in the basement, where Edouard locked the door so that "the children would not interrupt them." One thing, as they say, led to another, and the two wound up having sex. Other sexual encounters followed, during which time the member continued to seek advice about the adoption and marital issues.

Edouard also asked her for money. He explained that God brought them together and that she ought to provide for him out of the excess of her abundance. She wound up giving him a total of $70,000 of her abundance.

Another member seeking marital advice also wound up having sex with the pastor. He explained to her that she should never tell the church elders about these encounters, since they would never believe her.

A third woman with whom he had sex was also told that she shouldn't tell anyone because "nobody would understand this."

A fourth woman who talked to the pastor about her child with special needs was also involved in a sexual relationship and was told to keep it a secret. This woman's husband became suspicious, went to the church elders, after which Edouard resigned. He was charged with sexual abuse by a counselor or therapist, in violation of Iowa Code 709.4 and 709.15.

Following a change of venue from Marion County to Dallas County, Edouard was tried by a jury and Marion County Judge Paul R. Huscher. All four women testified, as did Edouard and his wife. Edouard admitted having sexual relations, but maintained that it was consensual. He also denied providing any mental health services to any of the four women. The jury found him guilty of the sexual exploitation charges, and he was sentenced to a total of ten years. He then appealed, and the case ultimately found its way to the Iowa Supreme Court. He argued that the evidence was insufficient to prove that he provided mental health services to any of the women.

The high court first looked at the definition of "counselor or therapist," and concluded that it applies to anyone who provides mental health services, and does not require any particular status.

The court pointed out that the women went to his office thinking that they would receive help from him. After carefully examining the evidence, the court concluded that the evidence was sufficient to show that the women were receiving mental health services.

After examining other issues in the case, the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, but reversed a restitution award to the State of Iowa.

No. 12-1899 (Iowa July 18, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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