The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Jury begins deliberation in Jeffrey Dodds’ sexual abuse of a minor case

The child attended an in-home daycare Dodds ran with his wife, who is a former Coralville city councilor.
Grace Smith
The Johnson County Courthouse on South Clinton Street in Iowa City on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022.

After four days of court, jury members began deliberating Monday on a case that will decide whether the husband of a former Coralville City Councilor will be convicted of sexually abusing a child.

The case revolves around whether Jeffrey Dodds, 63, sexually abused a child who attended the in-home daycare, Simple Abundance Child Care, that he ran with his wife Jill Dodds. Jeffrey and Jill Dodds were joint caregivers for up to 16 children ages 0-5 at their daycare since 2001.

Jeffrey Dodds is charged with three counts of second-degree sexual abuse, which is a class B felony. If convicted on all three counts, he could face up to a maximum of 75 years in jail.

The alleged sexual abuse occurred during a two-week period while Jill Dodds was recovering from knee replacement surgery in June 2021. Jill Dodds testified she and her husband closed the daycare from May 28 to June 6, 2021, reopening with Jeffery Dodds as the primary caregiver while she recovered for the following two weeks.

Because Jill Dodds was not able to be considered a caregiver during this time, they reduced the number of children they were watching to below eight to comply with Department of Human Services regulations for in-home daycare providers with only one caregiver.

During these two weeks after they reopened, Jill Dodds testified Thursday she was still in the house but in the upstairs living quarters near the stairs to the basement. Jill Dodds testified Jeffery Dodds was never alone with one child at any time.

The Dodds’ home is ranch-style, with the family’s living quarters upstairs on the ground floor, and the child care area in the basement. The downstairs area has several rooms that can care for infants and give kids areas to do learning activities and nap.

The victim’s father testified there were around 10 times during Jill Dodds’ surgery recovery where Jeffery Dodds was the only adult watching the children, and there was one instance where he knew Jeffery Dodds was the only one in the house because he saw Jill in the driveway after he picked up his child.

The child’s grandmother also testified she became concerned on Nov. 21, 2021, when the child and their brother visited her. The grandmother testified that the child was handling a doll in a sexual manner which made her concerned. When she inquired about what the child was doing, they said it was what Jeffery Dodds did to them.

She told the victim’s parents, who then took the child to be interviewed by social worker Katie Burrell. The child told Burrell that Jeffery Dodds touched them in the downstairs daycare area of the home, and they thought someone saw but could not remember.

Before this event, Jami Stevens, a social worker for DHS, made yearly unannounced compliance checks at the Dodds home. Stevens said the only complaint the Dodds had was for a dog bite in 2019. Jill Dodds testified they handled this issue by putting the dog down, which satisfied the state.

Jeffrey Dodds was arrested and charged in April 2022 and was released a day later after paying a $40,000 bond. Jill Dodds also resigned as a Coralville city councilor in April and testified she was asked by Meghann Foster, Coralville’s mayor, to resign because of her husband’s arrest.

RELATED: Family testifies in alleged sexual abuse case against husband of former Coralville city councilor

The child, who is under 14 years old, testified on Wednesday in a separate courtroom from Jeffery Dodds that he touched them inappropriately in the bathroom of the daycare and the family’s bedroom multiple times. The child testified Jeffery Dodds touched them every day and it occurred hourly.

Along with the child’s testimony, the video of the child being interviewed and a video of the victim’s mother asking the child about what happened was shown in court. In each interview, the child said Jeffery Dodds had inappropriate sexual contact with them, however, inconsistencies on location and whether anyone saw were pointed out by Jeffery Dodds’ defense.

Prosecutors did not directly address the inconsistencies but argued the jury should consider the child’s age and that there is no motive for the child to lie.

The defense argued inconsistencies in the child’s interviews and testimony along with the lack of any physical evidence to create reasonable doubt that Jeffrey Dodds committed these crimes.

Simple Abundance Child Care closed on Nov. 30, 2021, due to the pending investigation.

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About the Contributors
Jack Moore
Jack Moore, News Editor
Jack Moore is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication. He is from Cedar Rapids Iowa. Along with working at The Daily Iowan, Jack works for the University of Iowa's UI-REACH program as a Resident Assistant. UI-REACH is a program for students with learning, cognitive, and behavioral disabilities intended to provide support to these students throughout their college experience. Additionally, Jack is involved in Iowa City's live music scene as he plays bass for local Iowa City band "Two Canes."
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.