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Five additional, alleged victims testify man in 1998 case sexually assaulted them

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Five additional, alleged victims testify man in 1998 case sexually assaulted them

Muskingum County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Ron Welch responds to Defense Attorney Jeff Blosser's objection to having the five previous victims testify on Thursday.

Muskingum County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Ron Welch responds to Defense Attorney Jeff Blosser's objection to having the five previous victims testify on Thursday.

Christine Holmes

Muskingum County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Ron Welch responds to Defense Attorney Jeff Blosser's objection to having the five previous victims testify on Thursday.

Christine Holmes

Christine Holmes

Muskingum County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Ron Welch responds to Defense Attorney Jeff Blosser's objection to having the five previous victims testify on Thursday.

By Jessica Johnston, Assistant News Director

Four women took to the witness stand throughout the day Thursday to testify that the man accused of allegedly raping, kidnapping, assaulting and attempting to murder a woman in 1998 is the same man that assaulted them three years prior.

An additional victim, who previously had intimate relations with the defendant, took the stand to testify that he had also assaulted her in 1998.

John J. Iden, 45, is currently standing trial in the Muskingum County Court of Common Pleas due to an alleged incident that happened 20 years ago.

A woman was found standing in a field off the side of a road in Dillon State Park on the morning of Sept. 26, 1998. She was covered in blood and wearing a T-shirt and one sock.

The woman was found by a man who had been groundhog hunting that morning. The man who found her, Robert Kremer, testified in court as the first witness on behalf of the State of Ohio Wednesday morning.

Kremer was one of fourteen witnesses who testified on behalf of the State of Ohio Wednesday. An additional nine witnesses testified throughout the day Thursday.

One of the witnesses, former evidence technician for the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office, Tim Hartmeyer, took the stand to explain his processes in examining the crime scene at Dillon State Park, as well as vehicles that became a part of the investigation.

One of the cars Hartmeyer searched belonged to Iden. In the car, a white Ford Tempo, Hartmeyer said he recalled observing many notable aspects inside the vehicle. Along with multiple stains and a toolbox with soapy water in the bottom, Hartmeyer remembered that the right front area of the car was different than the rest of the interior — it was cleaner like it had been wiped down, he said during his testimony.

When Hartmeyer moved his search to the trunk of the car, he found a child’s toy, a car jack, a spare tire and an empty Visine package with nothing in it.

At the time, Hartmeyer said it was a “fad” for people to conceal date rape drugs inside Visine packages to get them into bars. The package was located under the mat in the truck in the wheel well with the spare tire.

Christine Holmes
Muskingum County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Ron Welch displays the empty Visine package collected from the trunk of John Iden’s Ford Tempo in 1998.

Hartmeyer retired from MCSO in 2006. He is currently being held in the Muskingum County Jail as he pleaded guilty to the possession of child pornography earlier this year, Muskingum County Prosecuting Attorney Ron Welch said during his opening statement Wednesday. He’s awaiting his sentencing which is scheduled for later this month.

Following Hartmeyer’s testimony were five women who had previously been assaulted by Iden, allegedly.

For privacy purposes in sexual assault matters, the names of victims are not published in a story. The women will be referred to as numbered victims. All statements are according to the victim’s testimonies of what allegedly occurred between them and Iden.

Victim 1

The summer of 1995, Victim 1 was 15 years-old. She said Iden picked her up near her parents’ house, although she had snuck out because it was late so he didn’t pick her up in the driveway. The two were going to hang out. Iden drove out to a pull-off area in Dillon State Park, a wooded area with a clearing, where he parked the car.

“He was trying to make advances on me. I wasn’t interested,” Victim 1 said during her testimony. “I wanted to go home.”

Iden then drove the then teenager home.

“I remember calling him a dick,” Victim 1 said.

Upon arriving at her home, Victim 1 opened the car door to get out about 500 feet from her parents’ house. Iden threatened to pull in her driveway. She said she was afraid her parents would find out, so she stayed in the car.

Iden then drove back out to the same location and sexually assaulted Victim 1, she said.

“I remember telling him to stop and I didn’t want to do this,” she said.

After it was over, Iden drove her back to her parent’s house and dropped her off. Victim 1 didn’t report her assault to any authorities.

“I was ashamed. I felt disgusted,” she recalled. “I didn’t want to get in trouble.”

Victim 2

On Nov. 3, 1995, Iden picked Victim 2 up from her home to go to one of his friend’s house to watch a movie.

Victim 2 was 15 years-old. She had told her mother that she was going to the movies.

The two didn’t watch a movie that night. Victim 2 said Iden picked her up, drove into town and then continued through and out of town. He told her they actually weren’t going to go to his friend’s house.

Iden drove out to Dillon State Park in a pull-off area, which was wooded with a clearing and parked his car. The two talked for a long time. At one point, Iden pulled the then teenager on top of him in the driver seat.

Despite Victim 2 being nervous, she and Iden kissed for a while until she said it was getting late and she needed to get home, but Iden told her, “I’m not leaving here without this,” as he pushed her chest down with his forearm, Victim 2 recalled.

“I knew at that point I wasn’t going to have a choice in what happened,” she said.

After the sexual assault was over, Iden drove her home. Victim 2 said she put her head up against the window and pretended to sleep during the drive home.

This case led to Iden taking a plea deal in a sexual battery case in Licking County in 1996, according to the victim.

Victim 3

Victim 3 met Iden at a bar. Both of them were with friends and all hung out that night.

She and Iden exchanged information and the relationship later progressed to the two being more than just friends.

Victim 3 said they would engage in sexual activities at Dillon State Park. She said it was enjoyable sometimes, but Iden would get rough.

She said Iden threatened to bash her head in and slit her throat because she wouldn’t do something of sexual nature with him. Iden did smash the woman’s head into the rear window of his car out at Dillon State Park.

About a week later, in 1998, the woman reported the incident to police.

Victim 4

On Dec. 7, 1995, Victim 4 went for a drive with Iden. She was 18 years-old at the time. She had known Iden for about four years as he was friends with her older brother.

Iden called one night around 11 or 11:30 p.m. to see if Victim 4 and her older brother wanted to hang out. Victim 4’s brother was sleeping, so Iden suggested he come over to her parents’ house where she was living and talk with her instead. She agreed.

The two talked out on the porch for less than 30 minutes, but it was cold outside, so they went for a drive.

Victim 4 said she was attracted to Iden, she even had a crush on him.

Iden drove out to Dillon State Park where they sat and talked and got out to walk along the tree line. They came across a litter of kittens, and Victim 4 recalls Iden picking one up and holding it close to his chest as it seemed cold.

“I thought it was sweet,” she said.

The two got back in the car and started driving back to Newark. Iden turned onto Stewart Street to a secluded area with trees to the front and left of the car and a field to the right.

They talked. Iden put a tape in, Victim 4 said it was Metallica.

“I remember thinking, God am I going to have to listen to that whole thing,” she said.

After a while, they held hands and started kissing. They got in the back seat, took their clothes off and started engaging in sexual activities. Then Iden stopped.

Victim 4 said she propped herself up on her elbows to see what was wrong. Iden grabbed her arms and forced her to turn over.

“The way he was handling me was scary,” she said.

Iden began sexually assaulting her, she said.

“I was trying to get up the whole time,” Victim 4 said. “I was begging him to stop.”

After it was over, they got back into the front seat and Victim 4 was crying. She said Iden pulled out a tissue for her to dry her tears and in that moment, she had a strong feeling that this was not the first time Iden had done that to someone.

Victim 4 didn’t report her assault right away.

Victim 5

On the evening of Dec. 21, 1995, Victim 5 was going on her third date with Iden. She was about 18. They were supposed to go to dinner with friends at Olive Garden, but during a phone call, before Iden picked her up, he said he didn’t want to be around other people and talked about the two of them having sex.

Victim 5 said she wasn’t going to have sex with him, she was a devout Catholic.

Iden picked Victim 5 up at 8 o’clock that night. She said he seemed edgy and upset. Metallica was playing in the car.

He ended up driving out to an area that had trees on two sides and a field on the other side. He started talking about how his life was a mess and he thought about suicide.

He started to make advances on Victim 5 and she reminded him that she wasn’t ready for that. Iden told her she was ready.

“You can either help me or you’re going to get hurt,” Victim 5 recalled about what Iden said to her. “You can either do this or we’re going to be here all night.”

After he sexually assaulted her, Iden drove her back to her house.

“To this day I can’t listen to Metallica,” Victim 5 said.

As soon as Iden dropped Victim 5 off, she talked to her brother who was sitting on the porch. She told him and her parents what had happened. They reported the incident to the police that night.

During the trial Thursday, Iden’s attorney Jeff Blosser objected to all five witnesses testifying on behalf of the State of Ohio as they were previous incidents that were not directly related to the case at hand. His objection was overruled by the judge.

After that last testimony, the court took a recess until Friday morning when the trial will resume in Judge Kelly Cottrill’s court.

Man stands trial for 1998 alleged rape, attempted murder case

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