MASON CITY — A former Mason City woman originally accused of sexually abusing a child in her daycare has been sentenced to probation.
31-year-old Tawny Symonds was accused of using an object to sexually assault a female child under the age of three causing blunt force trauma in December 2016.
Symonds was originally charged with second-degree sexual abuse, assault with an object and child endangerment, but through a plea deal, she made an Alford plea to child endangerment with the other two charges being dropped. An Alford plea is when a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the evidence would likely lead to a conviction.
Symonds asked for but was denied a closed sentencing hearing after comments were made on social media about the plea deal.
The mother of the child read a victim impact statement during today’s sentencing hearing, saying she does not agree with the plea deal and lack of a prison term with the sentence.
The child’s mother also wondered how people could be trusted to protect other people’s children in the future.
Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown explained why they entered into the plea deal with Symonds and recommended the suspended prison sentence.
District Judge Rustin Davenport stated that despite it being a tough decision, he agreed with the sentencing recommendation from the Department of Corrections and prosecutors that she receive a five-year suspended prison sentence and five years probation, refusing to issue a deferred judgment, meaning Symonds would be a felon.
Had Symonds been convicted of all three of the original charges, she would have faced 40 years in prison.
== Audio of a portion of the sentencing hearing for Tawny Symonds. Starting with victim impact statement from the child’s mother, followed by Symonds’ sentencing. Speaking is Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown, defense attorney Steven Kloberdanz, and District Judge Rustin Davenport