Former East Mills Teacher, Coach Found Guilty Of Sexual Abuse Sentenced

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A former East Mills Community School District teacher and coach convicted in May of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation by a school employee was sentenced in Mills County District Court Monday.

Christopher Lee Irvin, 40, was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for third-degree sexual abuse (a Class C felony) and two years for the sexual exploitation charge (an aggravated misdemeanor). His sentences will run concurrently according to an order handed down by Judge Richard H. Davidson. Irvin was also ordered to pay approximately $2,500 in restitution and court fees and register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life upon release from prison.

A Mills County jury deliberated for six hours on May 24 before reaching the guilty verdict against Irvin on the two counts, which stemmed from a sexual assault perpetrated on a juvenile female at Irvin’s home in April 2018 in which he used the victim’s foot as a “tool” to rub his genitals and masturbate while she lay on a sofa. The victim, who was at Irvin’s home to babysit a child for Irvin and his wife, testified during the trial that Irvin thought she (victim) was asleep. She graphically described the assault to jurors and stated that prior to the incident, Irvin was a person she looked up to and trusted.

“I froze, I thought this couldn’t be happening,” she told the court. “I told myself this couldn’t possibly be happening to me.”

The victim also testified at the trial that the assault and another alleged inappropriate incident involving Irvin in a sauna room at a Glenwood gym left her feeling “trapped,” “in shock,” “gross” and “small.”

Irvin didn’t testify during the trial, but in a video recording from the victim’s phone played to the jurors, Irvin was overheard apologizing and admitting he had “crossed the line.”

“I’m going to go to my grave not forgiving myself,” he said. “I’m too F’-ing weak to overcome something I should be able to overcome.”

The recording was arranged and monitored by an agent from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
Irvin showed no emotion during Monday’s sentencing and declined to make a statement prior to his sentence being announced.

The victim’s father, who testified during the trial that he considered Irvin to be a “close personal friend” before learning of the sexual assault, read a statement at Monday’s sentencing. He said he holds no ill will towards Irvin and that he is forgiven by the victim’s family. He encouraged Irvin to seek forgiveness from God.

The judge also addressed Irvin directly in explaining the sentence.

“Mr. Irvin, my reason for this sentence is based on the seriousness of the crime, to protect (the victim) and others as well as my sincere belief for your potential for rehabilitation,” Davidson said. “Let me also say that this young lady trusted you as her coach, her trainer and her mentor. You violated that trust just as you violated her.”
Prior to sentencing Irvin, Davidson denied a motion from Irvin’s defense team for a new trial.

A motion in arrest of judgment and a new trial were submitted by the defense’s legal counsel June 28. The defense questioned the credibility of the state’s lead witness (the victim) and  included claims of improper discussions among jurors about potential sentences for Irvin during deliberations, improper witness vouching and prosecutorial misconduct.
“Mr. Irvin did not receive a fair trial in this case and he deserves another chance at a fair trial,” defense attorney Christopher Roth stated Monday.

Davidson disagreed, stating he found the victim to be credible, despite some inconsistencies in her testimony, and that other claims in the motion for the new trial were unsubstantiated.