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Former Burlington Alderman's Sexual Assault Trial Enters 2nd Week

Des Moines County Jail
Chris King is accused of giving alcohol to several teenage girls and sexually assaulting them.

The trial of Chris King, a former member of the Burlington City Council, is entering its second week. King faces up to 35 years in prison on multiple charges including sexual abuse and indecent exposure.

The prosecution rested its case against King Friday afternoon. It repeatedly claimed King gave several teenage girls alcohol and drove them to rural Des Moines County where he sexually assaulted them.

Andy Hoffman, Courts Reporter for the Burlington Hawkeye, said the defense, which started presenting its case Friday afternoon, has identified as many as 20 potential witnesses, including King’s current wife and his mother-in-law.

Hoffman said what remains to be seen is if King will take the stand in his own defense.

“That is the million dollar question,” said Hoffman. “Normally, you do not see a defendant take the witness stand in a criminal trial of this nature, but I think there is a distinct possibility that Chris King is confident enough in himself that he would want to take the stand to tell his side of the story.”

Hoffman said that King’s attorney, Ross Braden of Fort Madison, stressed repeatedly during his opening statement that while jurors might find King’s actions distasteful, they were not illegal because they were consensual. Hoffman said that’s also what King told police during a roughly 45 minute interview, the video of which was played for jurors Friday afternoon.

“In which [King] admitted to purchasing a sex toy for one of the young women and also to having what he called or described as consensual sex with another woman who testified against him,” said Hoffman. “In the interview, he also repeatedly denied that he did anything illegal because anything he did do with these women, who were girls at the time, it was all consensual and that they were willing participants, which is contrary to what the testimony has been during the state’s case.”

A total of four women testified that King sexually assaulted them after they went to his photography studio for their high school senior pictures. Each was 16-18 years old at the time of their alleged assaults.

Hoffman said they shared similar stories of what happened to them.

“What I would describe in my 30 years [covering the legal system] as some of the most dramatic testimony I have heard,” said Hoffman. “Not once did King make eye contact with any of the women when they were on the witness stand. The jurors, I think, were shocked at some point, or during a lot of points, at the descriptive testimony the girls had to provide.”

Hoffman said King also avoided watching the video of his interview with law enforcement.

The trial has been delayed twice for a total of six hours due to King developing severe nose bleeds that required medical treatment. Hoffman said he expects the case to go to the jury before the end of the week.

King faces another trial on similar charges from a different group of victims, but no date has been set for it at this time.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.