- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A former Muscatine police officer cannot use a woman’s sexual encounter with her boyfriend as evidence in the officer’s sex abuse trial because it is not relevant, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

Former officer Thomas Tovar, 48, took part in a February 2013 traffic stop in which the woman’s boyfriend was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. Court documents show that Tovar drove the woman, who was also drunk, back to her hotel.

Tovar is accused of raping the woman, who was found naked by her boyfriend the next morning after he was released from jail. She told her boyfriend she remembered awaking at some point to a police officer on top of her, court documents say. The boyfriend called 911 and, before officers arrived, the couple had sex. Court documents only list initials for the couple, and The Associated Press generally does not name victims of sexual assault.

Tovar initially denied he had sex with her, but later said it was consensual. An investigation revealed Tovar’s DNA was found on a piece of the woman’s clothing and on the bed.

Tovar was charged in July 2013 and is free pending trial. His attorney wanted the jury to hear that she’d had sex with her boyfriend and a district court judge ruled it was relevant evidence “that could be interpreted as inconsistent with a sexual assault and consistent with consensual sex.”

State prosecutors appealed the ruling and the Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the judgment.

“We have determined the evidence is not relevant, and thus, it is not constitutionally required to be admitted,” the court said.

Tovar’s attorney did not immediately respond to a message.

The third-degree sexual abuse charge is a felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Tovar, who had been on the force since 1992 and is married, left the police force shortly after the allegations surfaced.

Separate court documents indicate the woman, who is now 44, filed a civil lawsuit against Tovar and the city of Muscatine in February. That trial date also has not yet been set.


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