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Iowa Watchdog

Senate candidate has previous brushes with the law


DES MOINES — Desmund Adams, a Democratic candidate for state senator in District 22, had been accused of  whipping his son with a leather belt, according to court documents, though a jury found him innocent of the charges.

Adams’ son, who was 11, was staying with him in March 2007, court records say. The boy was studying for a spelling exam, and Adams gave him a verbal test. Adams became upset when his son didn’t answer enough questions correctly. The boy told his dad he tried his best and shrugged his shoulders, according to court documents.

Adams, 38, became more agitated and sent him to get a belt from Adams’ room. His son came back, pulled his pants down and held onto his bed railings at the request of his father, who allegedly whipped his buttocks repeatedly, leaving bruises, the documents show.

Iowa Senate Candidate Desmund Adams had a run in with the law in 2008 after an incident involving his son that resulted with him being charged with child endangerment.

The court initially charged Adams with a misdemeanor in 2008, but changed it to a felony child-endangerment charge. Court officials also issued a protective order barring Adams from contact with his son until the case was resolved.

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Adams pleaded not guilty and was deemed innocent during a jury trial.

“This was an event that happened during a protracted and bitter custody battle,” said Michael Libbie, spokesman for Adams’ campaign. “Desmund was acquitted by a jury and there is no story. I’m a bit surprised that anyone would find this nonstory an issue.”

Adams describes his most significant accomplishment on his campaign website as being a father and raising his two children with his wife. The top of the page has a picture of him and his son at an Iowa Hawkeye s’ football game.

“As parents we have the utmost trust in the future and we believe, with all our fiber, we are ultimately responsible for giving our children guidance, love and respect,” the website says.

Adams has been campaigning for the state Senate seat for 16 months. He ran in the general election and was beaten by incumbent Pat Ward, a Republican. Ward recently died after a battle with breast cancer.

Adams now faces West Des Moines City Councilman Charles Schneider, a Republican, for the position. Voters will decide during a Dec. 11 special election.

Libbie, when contacted Tuesday, blamed Schneider’s campaign for bringing the issue to light. It never surfaced during Adams’ race against Ward.

“Our campaign has run a credible, positive campaign,” Libbie said. “There has never been a negative word from this side. Unfortunately, it has taken Mr. Schneider 24 days to resort to gutter politics. That says as much about his character as it does Desmund’s.”

Schneider disputed that, saying the two recently participated in a public forum and discussed policy issues in a civil manner.

“This story is irrelevant to the policy issues we’ve been discussing,” Schneider said.  “I intend to keep the focus of this campaign on the policy issues.”

Sheena Dooley can be contacted at

— Edited by John Trump at

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