An Iowa mom mostly known for her vocal stance against mandatory mask policies and who recently went on a public rant about drag performers was arrested on Friday after allegedly filing a false report of sexual abuse within her former business partner’s family.
Along the way, any remnants of a once-formidable alliance between women at the vanguard of far-right activism went up in flames.
Kimberly Reicks, the 39-year-old who founded the controversial activist group Iowa Mama Bears, was arrested on Friday morning on seven misdemeanor charges after allegedly making at least two calls to the Department of Human Resources against the family of Emily Peterson.
On those calls, according to criminal complaints obtained by The Daily Beast, Reicks falsely claimed Peterson’s husband broke their daughter’s phone—and that the Petersons’ teenage son was sexually abusing a sibling. The complaint says that in the last call on Aug. 9, Reicks “claimed to be a neighbor” who was informed of the sexual abuse allegations by her own son, who, in turn, supposedly heard about them from a child victim in the Peterson family.
In reality, prosecutors state, Reicks does not have a son by the name she told DHS—and “lives on the opposite side of town” as her former partner’s family.
“Their children had not been in contact for a couple of months at this time,” the complaint said.
Prosecutors say that the call was made shortly after Peterson texted Reicks’ husband “about a lockbox key.” This allegedly prompted Reicks to text her former business partner—and accuse her of having an affair with her husband.
The criminal complaint notes that another anonymous call to DHS was placed “shortly after” Peterson “ended her business relationship” with Reicks in May, “causing her to be very upset.”
The shocking allegations against Reicks come over a year after she and Peterson made a name for themselves in far-right communities for outspoken activism against mask mandates in schools. Describing themselves as the “Iowa Mama Bears,” the pair attended the Health and Freedom conference in April 2021, an event that featured prominent QAnon sympathizer Mike Flynn, according to Politifact. (Reicks denied being a QAnon adherent.) During the conference, Reicks held up a sign with a picture of her daughter’s face on it with the caption, “My mask caused a staph infection on my face four times. My body…my choice. Unmask Iowa.”
A month later, the Mama Bears were invited to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ signing of a bill banning all school mask orders.
Jail records show that Reicks was booked in Polk County Jail just after 3 am on Friday on two counts of child abuse-false report, one count of false report of indictable offense to a public entity, and four counts of harassment. The criminal complaint also notes the Peterson family asked for a no-contact order against Reicks, noting that they often attend the same events.
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Reicks did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and a Polk County clerk told The Daily Beast that she has “been granted a public defender, but a specific one has not been appointed.”
The Petersons could not immediately be reached for comment.
While it was not entirely clear what spurred Peterson and Reicks to cut ties, the Iowa Mama Bears website by Friday appeared to only feature the latter Mama Bear. Calling herself an “accidental activist,” Reicks says on the site that she “found herself embroiled in the battle for the rights of her children” after schools began to close with the COVID pandemic spreading across the country.
Since then, Reicks has waded into school controversies ranging from COVID vaccination to LGTBQ content. Earlier this month, she went to an Ankeny School Board meeting dressed in an outfit she claimed was similar to one worn by an after-school drag performer. The stunt was in protest of what she tried to argue was an inappropriate display for children, echoing a far-right panic about nonexistent LGTBQ threats to kids bolstered by governors like Ron DeSantis.
During her impassioned speech, Reicks demanded an apology for the May performance hosted by Ankeny High School’s Gay Straight Alliance—and a resolution “to make sure this doesn’t happen again on school grounds.”
“How are we going to entrust you—the board members—to do what is right for us parents and make sure that the kids know what is right?” Reicks added, according to the Des Moines Register.
But according to the Polk County Attorney’s Office, Reicks took shocking—and illegal—retaliatory steps against her former pal. Prosecutors allege that the calls began in May 2022, when DHS received an anonymous tip about Peterson’s husband and a broken cell phone.
Peterson later explained to authorities that in fact, she had spoken with Reicks about an incident involving a broken phone in February, and DHS ultimately rejected the report “due to lack of responsible belief abuse or neglect occurred.” Prosecutors now say that Reicks knew the allegation “was false” and she “was trying to harass the Peterson family.”
The complaint notes that the second call, which was placed three months later, was also “deemed false.” DHS provided the number and recordings of the calls to authorities, who later concluded that Reicks had made both reports.
Reicks allegedly initially denied calling DHS last month, but “admitted it after being presented with the evidence.”
Read more at The Daily Beast.
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