Wernimont sentenced to 50 years for sex abuse

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Rembrandt man was sentenced April 15th in Buena Vista County District Court to 50 years in prison for sexually abusing a female teenager.

Last month, a jury found Cory Wernimont, 36, guilty of five of six counts of third-degree sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl. Alleged assault occurred Aug. 7, 2012, at Wernimont's 510th Street home.

During the sentencing, the victim's family read three statements.

In the victim's written letter, read by Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault County Coordinator Jenny Ahlers, the girl described Wernimont as a "second father."

"It has been hard to cope," the teenager wrote, admitting that she attempted suicide and was briefly admitted to the Cherokee Mental Health Institute following the incident. "There has been so much pain."

According to the victim's older sister, ensuing circumstances have proven "nerve-wracking" and "stressful."

"I hope my sister, my family and I get justice after all we have been through," she said.

As she read, the victim's mother alternated between looking at Wernimont and her written statement.

"What Cory has taken away can never be returned," she said, as she described her family's descent into a "pit of anger and despair."

Wernimont, dressed in a navy blazer, jeans and black cowboy boots, did not appear to respond when addressed by the victim's family members. When prompted by Carr, he responded softly, almost inaudibly.

Two groups of individuals representing family and friends of the defendant and the victim sat on opposite sides of the courtroom, and remained silent throughout proceedings; however, following adjournment, the victim's family members and friends hugged each other.

While good behavior could warrant an early release, Judge Patrick Carr ordered Wernimont to consecutively serve the maximum sentence of five, not-to-exceed 10-year prison terms and to pay a $5,000 fine plus 35 percent surcharge.

Subsequently, the defendant also agreed to a five-year no-contact order with the child victim, mandatory listing with the Iowa Sex Offender Registry and lifetime parole restrictions.

Carr's judgment was based on a sentencing agreement, a first for County Attorney Dave Patton.

"There were discussions with victims and families before both trials, regarding what they would perceive as a good result," he told the Pilot-Tribune. "In cases like this, most don't understand how traumatic an experience it is to have to go through this personally invasive and embarrassing experience."

A second case, where Wernimont is accused of 60 counts of third-degree sexual abuse of a second teenage female, has been dismissed for now, but could be reinstated in the event Wernimont attempts to re-file.

"As a middle-aged man, I don't even pretend to understand, but we believe sending him away for not-to-exceed 50 years was a great result," the county attorney said.

Following the trial, Wernimont will be sent to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale.

Per Iowa law, an appeal can be filed within 30 days. Since the charges are not forcible felonies, Patton said Wernimont will have the right to post a $100,000 bond while out on appeal.

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