Plea Sought In Funeral Home Sex Case

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By Joe Foreman, Editor

    The attorney for a Mills County man facing charges related to a sex scandal at a Malvern funeral home is seeking a plea bargain for his client.
    Stephen H. Beattie, 56, of Malvern, is charged with third-degree sexual abuse (a Class C felony) and two serious misdemeanors - lascivious conduct with a minor and indecent exposure. Beattie’s attorney, James Martin Davis, told reporters Monday he’s negotiating a deal with the Mills County Attorney’s  Office in which his client would plead guilty to misdemeanor charges. The sexual abuse charge would be dropped under Davis’ proposal.
    If the plea deal is reached, Beattie would likely spend time in a residential treatment facility in Council Bluffs where he would be evaluated before being placed in a sex offender treatment program.
    Mills County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Hansen said he believes the case is close to being resolved.
    “What I’m hopeful for is that either through a trial or plea that we’re able to get justice out of it,” Hansen said. “We’re just trying to get something worked out that the victims and community are satisfied with.”
    Last spring, Beattie and Malvern funeral home director Karl Hertz became the subject of an investigation involving the alleged sexual abuse of a 17-year-old boy inside a funeral home owned by Hertz. The teen told investigators he had sexual encounters with both Beattie and Hertz on the same day - in the basement of Hertz’s residence and in a bedroom above the funeral home.
    Hertz, a prominent civic leader and former mayor of Malvern, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound the day after being served a search warrant by Mills County deputies.
    Beattie was arrested in July.
    Davis has stated on multiple occassions the consensual age for sex in the state of Iowa is 16.
    Beattie’s next appearance in Mills County District Court is scheduled for April 4.