Controversial Marshalltown attorney appointed to represent Williams

A Marshalltown lawyer best known for taking on the defense of the Mexican national accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts last summer has been tapped to represent Charles Williams, a Cedar Rapids area man who has been charged with inappropriately touching two young girls in Conrad in May of 2017, in an upcoming Grundy County case that is expected to go to trial.


According to court filings, Chad Frese became Williams’s third public defender in less than a year when he was appointed on November 20. In June, Judge Linda Fangman approved a motion to withdraw the counsel of Benjamin Stansberry, and on November 19, John Standafer, his replacement, was also withdrawn. Stansberry's request letter cited a "breakdown in the attorney/client relationship." 


Frese gained widespread attention when he agreed to defend Cristhian Bahena Rivera. Rivera, who had been working on a Poweshiek County dairy farm under an assumed name, is suspected of living in the country illegally, and he has been charged with the abduction and subsequent murder of 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts while she was jogging in July near Guernsey. Tibbetts went missing for over a month before her body was discovered, and Rivera’s immigration status sparked a nationwide debate on border security and enforcement—even capturing the attention of President Donald Trump.


The lawyer then attracted controversy and condemnation over a pair of publicly visible Facebook posts on his personal profile: one scorning the media for its rush to judgment against a hog farmer who had been previously convicted of stalking offenses and was considered a person of interest in the Tibbetts case, and another calling one of his clients an “(expletive) idiot and a terrible criminal.” 


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