Wickes seeks new trial

CLINTON — A former Camanche School District teacher sentenced to serve a prison sentence not to exceed five years for sexual exploitation by a school employee is asking for post-conviction relief.

Bradley E. Wickes, 39, of Albany, Illinois, through attorney Rebecca G. Ruggero, filed an application for post-conviction relief pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 822.

The application alleges ineffective counsel, stating Wickes' attorney failed to perform essential duties and prejudice resulted. The application alleges that Wickes should not have been advised to waive a jury trial. The application continues Wickes should have been referred for mental health and sex offender evaluation to assess his mental and sex offense propensities. The application states trial counsel should not have been appellate counsel, stating he could not raise defenses to certain issues. The application also states that counsel should have advised Wickes to hire independent experts to assist the court with the trial and sentencing.

"The lack of effective counsel resulted in prejudice to Applicant and any one of these failures to perform essential duties may have resulted in acquittal of Applicant at the trial level; a conviction to a lessor included offense; a sentence other than DOC; or a successful appeal," the application states.

The application's relief desired is the trial counsel be found ineffective, remand the matter to the District Court for a new trial and permit Wickes to seek a mental health assessment and/or seek alternative counsel to perfect the appeal, get a new trial ordered and appoint effective counsel.

Wickes appeared Oct. 6, 2016, in Clinton County District Court for sentencing on a charge of sexual exploitation by a school employee, a Class D felony. After a July 2016 bench trial, District Court Judge Stuart Werling on Aug. 11, 2016, had issued a criminal verdict finding Wickes guilty of sexual exploitation. Werling at sentencing ordered Wickes to serve a term of incarceration not to exceed five years. He also ordered a special parole sentence not to exceed 10 years be imposed consecutively, which subjects Wickes to up to 10 years on parole at the conclusion of the imposed sentence. He also granted Assistant County Attorney Ross Barlow's request for a protective order.

Wickes was represented in the case by Attorney Eric Puryear. The State was represented by Barlow.

District Court Judge Nancy Tabor on May 4, 2018, ordered Wickes to surrender himself to the Clinton County sheriff, who was ordered to transport Wickes to the Iowa Department of Corrections to serve his sentence as previously ordered.

According to the affidavit, Wickes allegedly initiated private communication with a 17-year-old female student when she turned in a paper to him while he was her teacher. The messages started out with Wickes identifying the student’s vulnerabilities and expressing a concern for her safety and well-being. The messages at times were sexual in nature and intended by Wickes to sexually arouse both parties, court records state.

The affidavit states that over the course of 600 pages of Facebook messages, Wickes continued to groom the victim for sexual conduct and pushed the limits of the conversation. The Facebook conversations sometimes lasted into the early morning hours.

The affidavit states the alleged victim said in an interview that she felt Wickes wanted to have a sexual relationship with her. Wickes at times engaged in conversation about how he would be in trouble if they were found out. He mentioned a need to sneak and hug but mentioned the consequence of criminal charges.