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Jury acquits Iowa teacher, coach of assaulting student

A criminal complaint said the former Van Meter Middle School teacher punched a student in the back of the head. The defense argued it was self-defense.
Credit: Jazmine - stock.adobe.com

VAN METER, Iowa — A jury has acquitted a former central Iowa coach and teacher who was accused of assaulting one student out of a group of students trying to toilet-paper his house.

The six-member jury on Friday found former Van Meter Middle School science teacher Joel Bartz not guilty of assault and not guilty of fifth-degree criminal mischief.

Authorities said that Bartz stopped a truck carrying a group of teens near his home around 10 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2020. A criminal complaint claimed that when one of the students got out of the truck and approached the teacher, Bartz grabbed the student and pulled him down while punching him in the back and head. 

Bartz argued his actions were in self-defense, and his attorney, Nicholas Lombardi, said the verdict was the right one.