BREMERTON — Dr. Larry Iversen was sentenced to five days in jail and 25 days of house arrest on Feb. 2, after pleading guilty to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old exchange student.
A plea deal reduced the retired doctor’s charges from felony sexual misconduct with a minor to fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation. Iversen was initially charged in October 2017 after he admitted to maintaining the relationship with a foreign exchange student from Hungary.
The student was in a Rotary Club exchange program for which Iversen also helped formulate safety policies during his tenure as a Rotarian. Iversen has since received a permanent ban from Rotary International.
Iversen’s attorney, Tim Kelly, described his client as “apologetic.”
“He felt very bad about what he had done to the [family] in whole, to the Rotary Club, to the citizens, to the community at large,” Kelly told Kitsap News Group. “He felt very bad about what he had done to everyone.”
Kelly said Iversen didn’t complain about the consequences of his actions on his own life, though his medical license (currently in retired status) is in danger of being revoked and Iversen’s wife of more than 50 years recently filed for divorce.
In addition to five days in jail, Iversen was also issued a two-year no-contact order, barring him from contacting the student either in person or electronically.
“Frankly, she’s in Hungary, so it’s not really an issue,” Kelly said.
According to Kelly, Superior Court Judge Claire A. Bradley actually handed down a one-year sentence to Iversen, with 334 days of suspended jail time, contingent upon his adherence to the terms of sentencing. If Iversen were to violate any condition of his sentence, there is the possibility that the judge could slap Iversen with an additional 334 days in jail.
“I can’t imagine that he’s going to violate the sentence,” Kelly said. “But if he were, the judge has that time available.”
Iversen will not be going on the sex offender registry for his actions either, Kelly said.
“It was not a sexual offense, it was not one of the crimes that is registrable, he will not go on the registration list.”
The age of consent in Washington, Kelly said, is 16 and the student was 17 at the time of the relationship with Iversen.
“As absurd as it may sound and as unusual as it may be, it is not illegal for a 72-year-old man to have sex with a 16- or 17-year-old girl,” Kelly said. “The only reason that Dr. Iversen was charged with the crime was because he was inarguably in a position of authority over her.”
In order for Iversen to have been found guilty of the initial charge of sexual misconduct with a minor, the prosecution would have had to prove that Iversen used his position of authority in order to persuade the student to have sex with him, something Kelly said never happened.
“A sexual relationship occurred but there was no persuasion involved, there was no ‘I’m your mentor, you’re here under the Rotary so you will have sex with me.’ There was none of that. It was purely consensual,” Kelly said, suggesting that the jury would also have seen the relationship between Iversen and the student as consensual.
“He had sex with her and he may have been in some position of authority but she certainly didn’t feel pressured. She went right along with it. Heck, they rented a hotel room and off they went,” he said.
Kitsap County’s Senior Deputy Prosecutor Cami Lewis said she disagreed with Kelly’s assertion that Iversen kept from using his authority to establish his relationship with the student.
“I think we would be able to prove it,” Lewis said. “He was a part of Rotary and well-respected part of Rotary and he would not have had access to her but for that position in the Rotary Club. He would not have been approved to take her by himself to Washington, D.C., but for the Rotary Club, and he wouldn’t have been at the same events.”
Lewis said there were a number of factors in the prosecution’s pursuit of a plea deal, the greatest being their wish to avoid any additional emotional toll on the family.
“A number of factors go into any negotiation. One of the factors for us was the victim’s well-being. Her father spoke at sentencing and it would have been really traumatic for her to have to go through a trial,” Lewis said.
As for how she felt about Iversen’s plea deal, Lewis said she believed the deal was fair and that it adequately acknowledged Iversen’s indiscretions.
“I think it recognizes that Dr. Iversen crossed some pretty significant boundaries,” she said.
According to Kelly, Iversen has until Feb. 16 to turn himself in to authorities and serve his five days of jail time.
— Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. Contact him at email@example.com.