DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Supreme Court upheld the felony conviction Friday of a man who tricked a woman into having sex with him by convincing her through social media that he was an old high school friend.
Michael Kelso-Christy, 23, had argued that Iowa law doesn't outlaw sex by fraud or deception, but he was eventually convicted of burglary, a charge that also can include entering a home with intent to commit sexual abuse.
Prosecutors said he set up a fake Facebook account in April 2015 under the name of the woman's classmate. Through messages that became increasingly sexual, the woman eventually agreed to a sexual encounter wherein the man would arrive at her home while she was blindfolded and restrained. She said the man didn't speak during the encounter and left her handcuffed.
The woman grew suspicious when text messages stopped and the Facebook profile became inactive. She determined the next day, through mutual contacts, that the man who arrived at her home wasn't her former classmate. She immediately contacted the sheriff's office and reported an assault.
Kelso-Christy was linked to the crime through a phone number he gave the woman and a fingerprint found at her home. Investigators determined he'd used a similar social media scheme with several women, and the man Kelso-Christy was pretending to be testified that several men were angry with him for soliciting sex from their wives or girlfriends.
Kelso-Christy was initially charged with sex abuse, but the charge was later dropped. He was later convicted during a bench trial of burglary and sentenced to 10 years in prison, with the judge saying consent inherently requires knowledge of the identity of a sexual partner.
Kelso-Christy appealed, arguing that the sexual encounter was consensual and he therefore didn't intend to commit sexual abuse as outlined under the burglary charge.
But in the majority opinion released Friday, Iowa Supreme Court justices said Kelso-Christy knew the woman never consented to physical contact with him.
"The identity of a sexual partner is no mere collateral matter. Women, and men, must be free to decide, on their own terms, who their sexual partners will be," Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote for the majority, further concluding that Kelso-Christy's actions denied the woman "the freedom of choice that breathes life into our sexual abuse statutes."
Justices David Wiggins and Brent Appel dissented, saying Iowa's second-degree burglary law does not specifically provide for sexual abuse by fraud or deception. Wiggins wrote: "We must not write words into the statute."
Iowa Department of Corrections records show Kelso-Christy is imprisoned in Fort Dodge. His attorney, Assistant Appellate Defender Melinda Nye, said Kelso-Christy was disappointed in Friday's ruling and has "challenged the applicability of Iowa's sex abuse statutes to his case since he was charged." She said he'll decide later whether to pursue further appeals.
The prosecutor did not immediately respond to messages.