Dustin Hillyer
Dustin Hillyer
August 12, 2013

A 28-year-old man who has been convicted twice of sexually abusing young boys - one of them a Carroll toddler - and accused of other inappropriate contact with children will be released from state custody after a judge decided the man is not a sexually violent predator.

Dustin Hillyer, of Memphis, Mo., was set to be released from prison in 2011 after a five-year incarceration for having oral sex more than a dozen times with the 4-year-old son of his Carroll girlfriend. Hillyer pleaded guilty to a lesser charge but has since claimed he was wrongly accused.

The Iowa Attorney General filed a petition to block Hillyer's release and confine him to an inpatient treatment program in Cherokee, where, under a provision in state law, he could have been held as a sexually violent predator for life.

That petition went to trial two weeks ago in Carroll, in which three expert witnesses gave opposing views on whether Hillyer suffers from a mental abnormality that makes him likely to commit more sex crimes if released - one of the law's requirements to keep Hillyer confined.

The attorney general's expert witness, Dr. Harry Hoberman, a Minnesota psychologist, testified that Hillyer suffers from pedophilia and anti-social personality disorder and has up to an 89-percent chance of committing another crime.

He cited Hillyer's two convictions - the first when he was 13 when he sexually abused his 3-year-old cousin, and the second for the Carroll incident - and Hillyer's alleged admissions in prison of sexually abusing up to about 20 of his relatives as proof of pedophilia.

Hillyer's two expert witnesses testified that most of the accusations were mere misunderstandings and that they believed Hillyer only committed a single inappropriate act when he was 13.

After Hillyer's 2006 conviction in Carroll, his mother called law officers at least four times to report other past incidents of the man fondling young relatives, but Hillyer said his touches were innocent.

"He said in the process of changing diapers, he would touch their genitalia," one of Hillyer's witnesses, Dr. Michael Taylor, a Des Moines psychiatrist, testified in court. "I think it would be pretty difficult to change a diaper without touching genitalia, based on my own experience with a daughter and a son."

The trial lasted two days, and in the end, it was Taylor's testimony that swayed District Judge Thomas Bice, court records show.

Taylor had initially been commissioned by the attorney general to testify in the case, but Taylor's findings didn't jibe with their petition to keep Hillyer from being released from state custody.

"Dr. Taylor did a 'flip-flop' on the state and left them not only with no expert opinion to offer at trial but rather a compelling, counter opinion to the case being advocated by the state," Bice wrote in his July 31 ruling. "Given that the state's own expert opines that Dustin Hillyer is not a 'sexually violent predator,' then how can this court, when faced with a burden of proof 'beyond a reasonable doubt,' find to the contrary?

"Simply answered, it can't!"

The attorney general's office did not respond to a Daily Times Herald request to comment for this article.

Hillyer is held at the Newton Correctional Facility in Newton. It's unclear how soon he will be released.

Hillyer said in court that he plans to live with his grandmother. He pledged to seek sex-offender and alcohol treatment and would keep taking medicines for depression. He wants to study at a community college to be a mechanic.

Because Hillyer has been convicted twice of sexual abuse, he must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and will be prohibited from living near or going to schools, child care facilities and other places with children.