OTTUMWA — Prosecutors are not letting go of charges against former teacher Zachary Barr, filing a resistance to the defense’s latest motion to dismiss the case.
Barr faces charges of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist, sexual exploitation of a minor, enticing a minor under age 16 and two counts of dissemination of obscene materials to a minor. His attorney has repeatedly claimed in court filings Barr was entrapped.
Police took over the social media account of a teenage girl with whom Barr was communicating. Her mother contacted police, which began the investigation.
The state’s resistance to the latest request for dismissal has two main points. One is that entrapment is an affirmative defense, which admits the accusations but offers an explanation for why they should not result in conviction. Prosecutors said that’s something Barr should have to prove to jurors, not apply in advance of the case being heard.
The filing also strikes at the contention Barr was entrapped by officers. Entrapment is when an officer or someone acting on behalf of law enforcement encourages a person to commit a crime they would not otherwise have likely committed. Prosecutors said that doesn’t apply to Barr.
According to the filing, Barr “initiated the Facebook messaging … . Law enforcement only became involved after [the teen] told her mother that the communications between herself and the Defendant made her feel uncomfortable and she believed them to have become inappropriate in nature.”
Barr also took steps to try to ensure he was talking to the teenage girl, rather than someone posing as her. Prosecutors contended those steps, which included asking her questions only she would likely know the answers to, indicate knowledge that Barr was crossing legal lines into exploitive behavior.
The case against Barr is not the only Wapello County case in which the prosecution and defense are sparring over whether the charges are proper. The attorney for Gonzalo Rios, who faces charges of burglary, sexual abuse and witness tampering, argued in a filing that injuries sustained by the woman prosecutors say was attacked by Rios don’t match the legal requirements for first-degree sexual abuse.
Prosecutors pointed out in their own filing that the court had previously set a deadline for such filings and that the deadline has passed.
In other area cases:
• Mario Tojin Tiu was acquitted of charges of disarming a police officer. The costs for the case were assessed to the state.
• Shane Reinier was found guilty of burglary and sentenced to five years in prison. The prison time was suspended and Reinier was placed on five years’ probation.