Tuesday January 29, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A high school teacher currently on administrative leave over comments he made online about the school district is facing allegations that he violated the conditions of a restraining order placed on him in January by his wife.

Steven P. Davis, 35, a science and math teacher at Mount Anthony Union High School for the past nine years, was released from Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division Monday on the conditions that he abide by a 24-hour curfew at the Hilton Garden Hotel in Troy, N.Y., and is not allowed contact with his wife, children, or the woman who provides daycare services for his children. Davis, who is on administrative leave from the high school, pleaded not guilty to a felony count of unlawful trespass of an occupied dwelling, and a misdemeanor charge of violating an abuse prevention order.

Davis represented himself in court on Monday telling Judge Cortland Corsones that his attorney is in Stowe and could not be there for the hearing, but had advised him on how to plead.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Sgt. Michael Plusch, on Jan. 27 he spoke to a woman who said she provides daycare services for Davis' children, and lives near his house. She told Plusch she saw Davis drive by his home twice on Jan. 26 and also showed him some Internet postings Davis allegedly made of statements that caused her some concern.


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According to the affidavit, one of the posts read "You may be wondering: Why am I up and about at 2:35 a.m.? Pretty much all I can think about is my wife and our two children. I've been living in a hotel since Tuesday. My house is currently unoccupied. I keep wondering, what with the clear bill of health I received on Tuesday (which I will post as a PDF tomorrow ... I will gladly give up my HIPPA rights) why I may not even be near the people that matter most to me. 200ft, by the way, is 60.960 meters."

The other post that concerned the woman read "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Early in the year Davis caused concern among police and school officials when he posted a series of videos online that were critical of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, and the teacher's union. Police conducted a welfare check on Davis after his neighbors reported seeing him carry a rifle to his car. Davis voluntarily surrendered the rifle and its ammunition, and went with police. He was then held at a medical facility while he received psychiatric care. Police said Davis made no threats but made comments that concerned them. After the incident his wife filed for a restraining order against him.

Davis told police he bought the gun a number of years ago and was moving it into storage.

Plusch said the restraining order requires Davis to be at least 200 feet from his home. Plusch said Davis is supposed to be residing at a hotel in Troy, N.Y., and had no reason to be driving past his home.

According to Plusch, also on Jan. 27 officers were sent to Davis' home for a reported break-in. Once there, it appeared a basement window had been broken, and the home's doors left open. Two land-line phones, eight photographs, and several men's shoes were reported missing. Plush said he contacted Davis to speak with him about the restraining order. On Monday, Davis turned himself in at the Bennington Police Department where he was cited.

In an interview after the hearing Davis said he has been in Bennington in the past week, but he denied violating the terms of the restraining order. "I am almost certain, and I feel that we can check the GPS tracking device in my car, because it's enabled with one with OnStar, that I have not driven by my primary residence," Davis said.

Reach Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @whitcombjr