Convicted Cedar Rapids man committed as sexually violent predator

Steven Lamont Davis convicted of four sexual assaults

Trish Mehaffey
Published: March 10 2014 | 7:00 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:22 am in

A judge ruled last month that a Cedar Rapids man convicted four times on charges involving sexual assaults met the requirements to commit him as a sexually violent predator.

Steven Lamont Davis, 48, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in all cases since 2003. In at least, two of the cases plea deals were offered because of problems with the victims’ testimony.

First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said in the two cases he prosecuted Davis, he had no choice but to offer plea agreements because one victim wouldn’t cooperate and the other had a previous relationship with Davis, which could affect her testimony or credibility.

Maybanks said this was the first case he asked the Iowa Attorney General’s Office to pursue a civil commitment of a sexually violent predator as defined by state law. Davis was nearing his release date on the most recent conviction, which is the appropriate time for the state to request the commitment.

“He (Davis) is an extreme example of a recidivist,” Maybanks said. “That’s why I requested this one and because I couldn’t fully prosecute him because of problems with witnesses. He had at least, four sexual convictions. He would get a conviction, serve little time and then reoffend.”

Davis’ convictions:

-2002, he pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman, her nose was broken.

-2003, he was charged with second-degree sexual abuse but pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily injury.

-2005, he pleaded guilty to domestic abuse assault while displaying a dangerous weapon. In this case he put a woman in choke hold and used lighter fluid to set the bedding on fire when he found her with another man.

-2009, he pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. His girlfriend lent him money and when she came to his hotel room to collect the debt, he assaulted her.

-2011, he pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit sexual abuse causing bodily injury against a female co-worker. During a date, they smoked crack cocaine and he put her in a choke hold when she refused to have sex with him. He sexually assaulted her three times.

According to the Sexually Violent Predator Act, the state only has to prove the offender committed one sexual violent crime and all of his criminal record can be considered to establish whether there is a pattern of sexually violent offenses. Davis is the sixth man committed to the unit from Linn County.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Douglas Russell said in his ruling that Davis had a “pattern of violence against women, denial of responsibility, lack of remorse and repeated criminal conduct.” Davis never completed a sex offender treatment program. He was in a program while on parole from the 2009 conviction when he committed the 2011 assault.

Russell said when Davis testified at the commitment trial Feb. 3, he repeatedly denied the nature of the assaults, claiming he just held one of the victim’s in a choke hold but didn’t choke her while forcing her to have sex with him. He also accused his victims of lying to police.

Two expert witnesses testified at trial and both found Davis had an antisocial personality disorder and a substance abuse problem.

Dr. Michael Taylor, a Des Moines psychiatrist and the state’s expert witness, said Davis’ mental abnormality predisposed him to committing another sexual offense if not confined to secure facility. The defense’s expert, Luis Rosell, a Mt. Pleasant psychologist, gave greater weight to psychological tests and concluded Davis’ mental abnormality didn’t reach the level required by the state law.

Russell concluded Davis suffers from a mental abnormality which makes it likely that he will reoffend in “predatory acts that are sexually violent in nature.”

According to Iowa code, a finding of a mental abnormality is required to commit an offender to Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders in Cherokee. The focus of the commitment is to prevent future offenses, rather than punishment for prior offenses.

The unit provides a long-term secure, structured inpatient treatment for offenders at high risk to reoffend, Amy McCoy, spokesperson for Department of Human Services, said. These offenders have served their prison time but then in a separate civil trial, as Davis had last month, they are committed to the unit. The offenders stay in the unit until it’s determined they are safe to go into transitional release, similar to a work release program, or be discharged.

The offender could remain in the unit for an indefinite period of time, according to state law. There are five treatment phases to measure each offender’s progress and each one must also pass a series of polygraph exams regarding sexual deviancy.

According to DHS, which oversees the unit, the offenders have annual reviews and they can retain experts to perform the examination or the court can appoint an expert. If the offender, after a final hearing, is discharged, then he is placed in a transitional release program.

There have been 132 committed to the unit since 1999 when the program started and only 27 have been discharged, McCoy said.

Assistant Iowa Attorney General John McCormally said not many are discharged who have successfully completed the program. There have been only two, so far. The others were released by a Iowa Supreme Court ruling determining their crime wasn’t a sexual offense or based on an evidentiary finding, seven died and others were released after a court found they no longer met the criteria of a mental abnormality.

Robert Rigg, Drake Law School professor and director of Criminal Defense Program, agreed that it’s rare that one of these offenders leave the program because they have “successfully” completed it. Even when they are released, most of them will have to be registered on the sex offender list or serve a 10 year or lifetime special parole because they were convicted of a sex crime.

“From a defense side, you could argue it’s not a treatment program but a confinement,” Rigg said. “But it’s (Sexually Violent Predator Act) been upheld as being constitutionally sound. Many states have this law.”

Civil commitments of sexually violent predators
19995
20008
200113
200212
20039
200410
20059
200611
20077
20089
20093
20103
201113
201213
20134
20143as of March 7
132Total
Source: Iowa Department of Human Services
Linn County commitments
Steven Davis2/19/2014
Andrew Gaal8/2/2013
David Kostman12/6/2013
Jonathan Stenzel4/1/2011
James Sturtz7/30/2013
David Taft11/19/2013
Source: Iowa courts online


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