A Bettendorf counselor set to be sentenced Friday for kissing an adult client in December instead was allowed to take back her guilty plea.
District Court Judge Thomas Reidel granted an oral motion after attorneys for Aracely Schutters argued she was not informed of the sex offender registry or special 10-year parole sentence ramifications when she pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist, an aggravated misdemeanor, in February.
“The Court weighed that collateral consequences such as this are of such an extreme nature that it is warranted to set aside her guilty plea,” the judge said.
Reidel set the case for a pretrial conference July 6. Assistant Scott County Attorney Kimberly Shepherd said she anticipates amending the charge to a felony, which Schutters originally faced.
Schutters was arrested Jan. 22 by Bettendorf police.
Police say Schutters on Dec. 4 invited a female client to her home via text messages to talk about the client's problems.
She had been employed as the client's therapist for about a year and a half, according to police. The client got into Schutters' hot tub with the intent of discussing issues the client had been facing, according to police.
Schutters persistently tried to get the patient to drink several alcoholic drinks and engaged in unwanted kissing and touching, according to police.
Police say Schutters said something to the effect of "this is so wrong, I can't be your counselor anymore."
The client left and Schutters later apologized through text messages and a phone call, according to police.
In an interview with officers, Schutters admitted to the act. Iowa Code criminalizes any sexual conduct by a therapist or counselor with an emotionally dependent patient or client or an emotionally dependent former patient or client, regardless of age.
Sexual conduct, according to Iowa Code, includes kissing or touching.
Schutters remains free on bond.