Ternus family issues statement

The chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court has issued her first public statement about the summertime bonfire/drinking party a neighbor complained about and a deputy sheriff discovered on the family’s propery.  Her husband has paid a $65 fine and will be on probation for six months on a charge of harassment of a public official (he was to stand trial on a charge of interference with official acts, but he a plea in the case was entered earlier today).  Her son has now issued a public apology. Read the entire “Ternus Family Statement” below.

On July 17, 2009 seven college students were arrested at the home of Marsha Ternus and Denny Drake for underage drinking.  Denny Drake was placed under arrest for interference with official acts.  On October 20, 2009 Mr. Drake entered an Alford plea.  As part of the Alford plea, the charge was amended to harassment of a public official.

The family has not spoken publicly about the incident and has declined media interviews.  Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Denny Drake, and their son Robert, a college student, have provided these statements to the media. 

Marsha Ternus, Iowa Chief Justice 
“I am pleased that the situation has been appropriately handled within the court system for which I have the greatest respect.  Now that the matter has been concluded, I can speak about the event without violating the Iowa Code of Judicial Conduct that prohibits judges from talking about pending cases. 

“There have been questions concerning my whereabouts on the evening in question.  The reality is that I was asleep in our house.  Unknown to me, a group of college students that included our son had gathered nearly a half mile from our house where they had started a bonfire.  I had no knowledge my son and his friends were on our property that night, or that they were drinking, until after the Polk County Sheriff Deputy had arrived.

“This event and its aftermath have been difficult for me and our family.  Just like all parents, we strive to raise our children to be responsible citizens. My husband and I have taken steps to ensure a similar event will not occur in the future.  I want to take this opportunity to thank the many friends, colleagues and members of the community who appreciate the challenges faced by parents raising teenage children and who have been supportive of me and my family during this challenging time.”

Denny Drake
“I am pleased this matter has been resolved.  I apologize to anyone affected by my actions, including my children, and to my wife for the difficulty my actions have created for her as Chief Justice. ” 

Rob Drake
“I want to take this opportunity to apologize to my parents for my behavior this summer.  I made a poor decision, and recognize the impact this has had on both my mother and father.  I am thankful for my parents’ love and support.”

The family will have no other comments regarding this issue.  Thank you in advance for your understanding.


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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.