DES MOINES (AP) — A homeless man who’s a registered sex offender was
arrested after police said he grabbed a toddler and sexually assaulted
her in the men’s room of the downtown public library.
Police hailed library workers who pulled the girl away from the man as
James C. Effler Jr., 32, was charged with first-degree kidnapping,
second-degree sexual assault and failure to comply with rules of the Iowa
Sex Offender Registry, because he was not living at the address listed.
Police said Effler grabbed a 20-month-old girl as she played near a
computer being used by her babysitter. Library employees helped the
babysitter search for the child before hearing the girl cry from the
restroom, which was locked, police said.
Employees called police and removed the door handle to reach the girl,
then held Effler until officers arrived, Capt. Kelly Willis said.
“Most of the police work was done by the library staff before we even
arrived,” Willis said.
The child was taken to a hospital for evaluation. The extent of her
injuries was not made public.
Effler was convicted in 2003 for a sex crime against a 31-year-old woman
in El Paso, Texas. He was sentenced to three years in prison and later
Police have not determined how long Effler has been living in Iowa.
Effler is listed on the state registry, but because his conviction
involved an adult victim, he is not covered by the state law that
prohibits some offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or
child care center.
Police said Effler was living at a homeless shelter.
When library workers heard the girl scream in the restroom, they saw an
adult’s shadow on the other side of the door’s frosted glass, police said.
When they couldn’t force their way into the restroom, they called for a
maintenance worker with a screwdriver, Willis said. Once the door handled
was removed, they opened the door, pulled the child out and shut Effler
“They are heroes,” Willis said. “They grabbed the baby and shut the door
Records show that in recent months, Effler was jailed for public
urination, arrested for drunken driving and charged with shoplifting.
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