Washington mayor charged with sexually assaulting patron at his bar
Washington Mayor Jaron Rosien turned himself in Tuesday on a felony count of sexually assaulting a patron at the bar he owns, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said in a news release.
Rosien was being held in the Washington County Jail on a $10,000 bond.
The DCI, called in to handle the case because it presented a potential conflict of interest for Washington police, said the reported assault occurred at Rosien's bar, J.P.'s 207, just off the city square in the town of more than 7,000 south of Iowa City, on the night of Jan. 7 and early Jan. 8.
According to an affidavit filed by a DCI investigator, the alleged victim, a 27-year-old enlisted man in the U.S. military identified only as AB, said he and some friends and colleagues visited the bar and were playing pool when Rosien approached them and asked to play the next game. AB's friend told him Rosien owned the bar and was the mayor of Washington, the affidavit said.
It said AB told the agent that when the bar was closing, Rosien asked him to play a different game at the bar — it didn't say which game — and that, while playing the game, Rosien started loudly and repeatedly making crude jokes about male genitalia. AB alleged that Rosien, his face inches from AB's, started sliding his right hand up his thigh and groped his genitalia, the affidavit said.
It said the contact "was in no way consented to by AB."
Affidavit: Surveillance video shows apparent kiss, other contact
AB couldn't recall whether Rosien kissed him, but that a review of surveillance camera footage obtained via a search warrant showed Rosien appearing to kiss AB's cheek or ear and touching him between his legs, the affidavit said.
Questioned by the DCI, Rosien told investigators that he had been at the bar that night and had acted "flirtatiously" with an individual matching the description of AB. He said, however, that he had been too drunk to recall whether he inappropriately touched the other man, the affidavit said.
Rosien, mayor since 2018 and a council member for four years before that, said he temporarily would step away from his mayoral duties, but did not plan to resign. He recently ran unsuccessfully in a Republican primary for the Iowa House District 92 seat.
“I take these allegations very seriously,” he said. “I also take this job, its duties, and those that rely on me to complete them, very seriously. For this reason I will respectfully step back from the formal role in order to focus on what is required. During this time I think of and wish to thank my family, friends, and community for their support.”
If convicted, Rosien could face up to 10 years in prison.
George Shillcock is the Press-Citizen's local government and development reporter covering Iowa City and Johnson County. He can be reached at (319) 214-5039, GShillcock@press-citizen.com and on Twitter @ShillcockGeorge
This article originally appeared on Iowa City Press-Citizen: DCI: Washington Mayor Jaron Rosien sexually assaults bar patron