Two Legislators Among Five Indicted For Actions At Bachelor Party
NEWTON, Iowa (AP) _ A state legislator who was the guest of honor at a bachelor party that resulted in his indictment and that of another lawmaker and three other people on misdemeanors says he’ll be cleared of the charges.
A Jasper County grand jury on Monday indicted state Reps. Ed Parker and Al Sturgeon, a lobbyist, a dancer and a bartender on one misdemeanor count each ranging from indecent exposure to violating the state’s gift laws.
If convicted, each could be sentenced to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine, prosecutor John Billingsley said.
The indictments are in connection with an April 17 bachelor party for Parker at the Back Forty lounge in Mingo, 25 miles northeast of Des Moines. It was attended by 25 of the 100 state representatives, legislative staffers, lobbyists and two news reporters.
″I will not apologize for getting married nor for the fact that many friends held a party in my honor,″ Parker, a Mingo Democrat, said after being charged with violating the state’s gift laws. ″If it were not for the fact that I’m in the political arena, none of this would have gone this far.
″I did nothing wrong.″
Sturgeon, chairman of the House Human Resources Committee charged with indecent exposure, said: ″My attorney has allowed me only to tell you what I plan to do. That is to plead not guilty.″
″My family has been 100 percent behind me from the very start,″ said Sturgeon, a Democrat running for the state Senate in November.
Jim Pribyl, a lobbyist for Northwestern Bell Telephone Co., was charged with violating the state’s gift laws; Dawn Wilson, one of two dancers at the party, was charged with indecent exposure; and bartender Chuck Maher was charged with permitting exposure of a female breast or genitals.
Because the charges are misdemeanors, the defendants have not been arrested and do not have to appear at a hearing scheduled for Sept. 8, Billingsley said.
Media reports of the party diverted the attention of legislative leaders who were trying to wind up this spring’s session of the Legislature. Although more than 25 people attended, many said they knew nothing of the misconduct either because they had left or were in another room.
Sturgeon eventually apologized for what he called inexcusable behavior but never detailed the events prompting his apology.
The indictments against Sturgeon and Ms. Wilson said they ″did perform a sex act in the presence or view of third persons.″
Parker’s indictment alleged he had received a gift worth more than $50 and Pribyl was accused of giving a public official a gift worth more than $50.
″I did not violate the Iowa gift law, the grand jury simply made a mistake on their interpretation of the gift law,″ Pribyl said. ″I did not do anything illegal or unethical in respect to that event.″
Sturgeon’s opponent in the Senate race, Chuck Thomas, said he won’t use the indictment as a campaign issue.
″I certainly don’t think that this is going to help his campaign,″ Thomas said. ″Obviously, it isn’t good publicity when a candidate is indicted by a grand jury.″
Parker, who also faces opposition, has said his once-certain re-election may be in doubt.