Editor's note: The following story contains sensitive content regarding sexual harassment.
Update: The defendant was released from Story County Jail after posting bond.
Original: The Ames Police Department arrested David Cheney, 39, of Rochester, MN., and charged him with seven counts of third-degree misdemeanor harassment Wednesday. The city had seen a spate of sexually explicit notes left on cars this week.
If convicted of third-degree misdemeanor harassment, an individual can be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail.
Ames Police Sgt. Derek Grooters said seven victims are known to police, though he said they expect more to be reported.
“We’re pretty sure it’s just this one individual [responsible for the notes],” Grooters said.
A Facebook post was made Wednesday with a photo attached of the note a woman said was left under the handle of her car door outside of Hobby Lobby on Lincoln Way Tuesday, and she contacted police who told her about half a dozen of these incidents had been reported.
In a press release, the Ames Police Department said all of the victims reported receiving notes of a similar nature.
A victim found a note on their car Wednesday at Target, it was following this incident Ames Police "ended up making an arrest,” Grooters said.
Allegra Selzer, special populations outreach advocate for Assault Care Center Extending Shelter & Support (ACCESS), said for something to be harassment it does not necessarily have to be a physical act, and abuse does not necessarily have to be a physical act, either.
“These notes made people feel unsafe — made the women feel unsafe — and they were very explicit. Those are things that no one should be exposed to without consent,” Selzer said.
Selzer said the Ames Police Department could be contacted by victims, and they treat incidents like this one seriously.
“They can also reach out to the police. Even if they didn’t feel that it was that serious, if they want assistance or if they find other notes, the Ames Police [Department] takes these things very seriously and wants to make sure that our communities are safe,” Selzer said. “If it’s someone who saw the note and aren’t in Iowa but may be back in the fall, they can always contact RAINN via their in-state crisis line.”
Grooters said he encourages anyone who has received a note to report it to the police.
Ames Police can be contacted at (515) 239-5133 or their anonymous tip line (515) 239-5533.
“Anyone who feels impacted [by the notes] can reach out to ACCESS. We have a crisis line if people aren’t comfortable talking to someone they know … it is staffed 24/7,” said Selzer.
ACCESS’s sexual abuse crisis line is 515-292-5378.
Reporting contributed by Emily Berch.