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EXCLUSIVE: Siouxland man wants sexual abuse conviction overturned after victim recants

EXCLUSIVE: Siouxland man wants sexual abuse conviction overturned after victim recants

The victim now says he lied.

And that has a Sioux City man trying to overturn his sexual abuse and incest conviction.

Now that man is taking his case all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Jacob Schmidt says it was fear of losing his case that led him to plead guilty to a lesser charge in 2007.

But seven years later the alleged victim has recanted his testimony, saying Schmidt never sexually abused him.

Despite that admission, a lower court has ruled Schmidt's guilty plea has "put the lid" on any appeal.

But a public defender for the state is asking the Supreme Court to overturn that ruling.

Jacob Schmidt is 28 years old and has spent roughly a decade behind bars for a crime in 2006 he says he didn't commit.

"I was originally convicted of incest and assault with an intent to commit a lascivious act on a minor. And what happened with that is, my dad walked in and he was blowing meth smoke on my younger brother's face and I got tired of it and I couldn't take it no more. I ended up assaulting him and told me he was going to make my life a living hell," said Schmidt.

As a result, Schmidt claims his father made up a story about Schmidt forcing oral sex on a minor when he was just 17 years old.

"He made this whole story up," he said, "They waited until I was 18 to have me incarcerated and when they told me I was facing 35 years, I was 18 years old, I was scared. I just didn't know what to do so I took a plea bargain for something I didn't do."

"So you plead guilty out of fear?" I asked.

"I had a public defender, he wasn't working with me he was working against me. Just turned 18, and he told me I was going to prison no matter what. I was just 18 and scared," he said.

"When you look at the court documents they talk about facts and they say that your father, that he said, he walked on you two with your pants down. And so he said that because you assaulted him in one instance?," I asked.

"Yes and there's actually court records, police records, when I was 17, that I got an aggravated assault on him. And after that, right after I got out of juvenile detention, this is when all this happened."

"So why should the court trust your plea of innocence after you've plead guilty. Why should they now trust your plea of innocence?" I asked.

"Well I don't know if they should trust or not but honestly, what's right is right and what's wrong is wrong and I still believe I'm in the right," he said.

This is why Schmidt is having his attorney, Martha Lucey of the State Appellate Defender's office, go before the Iowa Supreme Court to appeal a previous ruling in his case.

In 2007 the victim testified saying Schmidt had sexually abused him.

Seven years later, he took it back saying he was forced to say it.

"I can't be mad at him. He's not the one who initiated the whole thing. He just said what he was told to say."

Schmidt was looking to get a hearing as a result of this new information but a Woodbury County judge didn't look at it because of his original guilty plea.

"Why should people believe these facts as opposed to the facts that were in 2007?" I asked.

"My attorney didn't make me aware of anything, who was going to testify or anything. He didn't tell me that there was people going to testify or nothing he just told me I was going to prison for a long time. If would have known what I know now, I would have said something about my lawyer not representing me to the adequate part that he was supposed to," Schmidt said.

"This case has interest to other groups. Not necessarily about the recantation but whether or not there is some legal avenue in Iowa law for people who are claiming actual innocence."

What does he want people to learn from hearing his story?

"Instead of judging people by what they hear, you should judge people by what you know and that's why I'm doing this now, that's why I'm opening up and coming out here today on my own free will because I want people to know the real story instead of judging me on what they're hearing and start judging me on what they know," he concluded.

There's no deadline for the state supreme court to make a decision on Schmidt's case.

Schmidt got out of prison in December of 2015. He's currently registered as a sex offender.

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