NORTHWOOD, Iowa – A man convicted of aiding and abetting in the rape of a North Iowa woman who later died must remain a registered sex offender.
Zachary Michael Patterson, 27, was convicted in Worth County in 2012 of aiding and abetting assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. Patterson admitted to being in the house the night 27-year-old Bridget Wirtjes was raped. Wirtjes later died of her injuries.
Patterson served six months in jail and completed his probation and parole. He filed a petition with the court in September 2018 so he would no longer be on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. A hearing on that petition was held December 17, 2018, in Worth County District Court.
Patterson told the judge that being a registered sex offender was an embarrassment to his family, harmed his chance of employment, and prevented him from seeing his grandparents in care facilities.
District Court Judge Gregg Rosenbladt has now rejected Patterson’s request. Judge Rosenbladt says Patterson may not have sexually assaulted Wirtjes but he was present when it happened and did not stop it from taking place. He also says that one evaluation of Patterson considered him at “average risk” to reoffend. Due to the “egregious nature” of Wirtjes’ sexual assault and death, Judge Rosenbladt has ruled that Patterson must remain on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry.