Rembrandt man faces 66 sex abuse charges
A 36-year-old Rembrandt man faces 66 felony charges of sexual abuse for incidents involving two 15-year-old girls, according to Buena Vista County Sheriff's officials.
Cory Dean Wernimont was earlier charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl at least four times Aug. 6 at his home in the 1100 block of 510th Street. Two additional charges were later added involving abuse incidents with the first victim. Additional investigation has since led officials to a second victim who was allegedly sexually abused at Wernimont's home at least twice a month from November 2009 through August 2012, starting when the girl was 13 years old.
On Thursday, 60 additional charges were filed on top of the six Wernimont already faced, according to a statement from the sheriff's department.
At last report, Wernimont was still being held at the Buena Vista County Jail. Bond had been expected to be as much as $640,000 after the new charges ($40,000 on the charges involving the first victim and $10,000 for each additional charge with the second victim). His attorney argued that if Wernimont is released, he would be living with his parents in Cherokee and so would not be a threat to the community. He said that if the bond were set to $50,000, Wernimont could pay it.
On Friday afternoon, the judge set bond for all 60 of the new charges at a total of $10,000 - for a total of $50,000 cash-only bond.
Buena Vista County Attorney Dave Patton said that his office was resisting bond reduction. "My position will be that he needs to be staying in jail until the end of his prison term, if he is still alive... that is, if he is found to be guilty," Patton said.
The judge decided that if Wernimont would put down $50,000, the court would be assured that he would return to face his charges, according to the Clerk of Court's staff.
When asked if there is a concern whether there may be additional victims involving Wernimont, Patton said, "There are always those kind of concerns in a case like this one."
Major Doug Simons of the sheriff's department agreed that the possibility of more victims is a concern, but said his department has no leads at this time to indicate such a development.
The longtime deputy said that cases with such a high number of charges are fairly rare for local law enforcement.
According to court documents, the first alleged victim has given a statement to authorities and was examined at the medical center for evidence of abuse. The second has now given a preliminary interview.
Although court documents indicate that the self-employed defendant owns a house, rental property, vehicles and a $27,000 bank account, and earns $24,000 a year, he applied for and was granted a court-appointed attorney.
The court has issued a no-contact order protecting three individuals relating to the first victim from any contact by Wernimont.
The investigation is continuing, and the sheriff's department is being assisted by the county attorney's office and the Iowa Department of Human Services.