Ex-Iowa Church Volunteer Gets 20 Years for 1998 Sex Abuse of Boy

By Mike Brownlee
The World-Herald
January 9, 2013

COUNCIL BLUFFS — A former Harlan, Iowa, resident was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy.

Pottawattamie County Judge Greg Steensland found Bobby E. Smith, 68, of El Dorado Springs, Mo., guilty of three counts of third-degree sex abuse and one count of indecent contact with a child for crimes committed 14 years ago in Council Bluffs.

Assistant Pottawattamie County Attorney Dan McGinn said Smith met the boy through First Baptist Church in Harlan, where Smith was a volunteer. After the boy was unable to go on a church-sponsored fishing trip in the summer of 1998, Smith offered to take the boy on a separate fishing trip, not sponsored by the church.

The pair went to Lake Anita in Cass County. After the trip, they traveled to Council Bluffs, where Smith told the boy they'd go shopping. While en route Smith fondled the victim. Once in Council Bluffs, Smith booked a room at a hotel, where he molested him.

Smith waived a jury trial, and Steensland heard arguments in the case in November.

McGinn said the victim is happy with the sentence. Prosecutors had asked for 32 years — 10 years for each sex abuse count and two for indecent conduct.

The charges carry no mandatory minimum for time served, McGinn said, meaning Smith will appear before the parole board each year. Under Iowa law, if Smith is a model prisoner, he could earn 1.2 days of credit for every day served, meaning his sentence could be up after nine years and 33 days.

Smith moved to Harlan in 1983 and lived there at the time of the alleged assault, according to the County Attorney's Office. He moved to Missouri in 2008.

McGinn said Smith admitted to police that he has abused others, but no other victims have come forward.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Council Bluffs Police Department at 712-328-4701 or the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, Harlan Police Department, Omaha Police Department or El Dorado Springs Police Department.


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