Former Iowa Counselor Awarded Millions For Wrongful Imprisonment
A former counselor in the Iowa City School District, Donald Clark, was arrested in August of 2009 when he was charged with sexually abusing a fifth-grade student at Lemme Elementary.
The Iowa Department of Human Services received a tip in June of 2009 that said he abused the student during the 2003-2004 school year. He spent six years in jail for the alleged crime.
Though his appeal reached the Supreme Court in 2012, Clark wasn't exonerated from the crime until 2016 when 6th Judicial District Judge Sean McPartland vacated the charges.
Thanks to a suit filed against the state of Iowa on Thursday, the former Coralville resident is set to receive a total of $12 million for the false charges. According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, "A jury awarded Clark $8 million in past emotional distress damages and $4 million for future damages."
The Press-Citizen continues, elaborating on why Clark was cleared of the charges: "That year, the court found that his public defender, John Robertson, was ineffective and declared Clark not guilty, but also 'actually innocent,' a legally important finding, according to a news release from Clark's lawyers at The Spence Law Firm LLC.
The jury found that Robertson, who died in 2013, failed to investigate the prosecution’s case against Clark, and a 'substandard trial performance led to his conviction and wrongful imprisonment.'"
The news release stated that the $12 million was awarded to Clark after six days of testimony and two hours of deliberation.
This is what Clark said following the trial, also in a statement:
No matter what happens from here on out, I’m not only free from prison, but I’m also free from the state’s prison of lies. With this verdict, the rebuilding of my life can continue.
Clark now works at a Good Will in Cedar Rapids.
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