KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- A former local high school teacher charged with violating a curfew when filing a motion to have that curfew modified had his request granted Friday.
Steven P. Davis, 35, had been under a 24-hour curfew at the Hilton Garden Inn in Troy, N.Y., since Jan. 28. On that date he pleaded not guilty to a felony trespassing charge and a misdemeanor violation of an abuse prevention order. He is accused of allegedly entering and driving within 200 feet of his North Bennington home.
According to Sean-Marie Oller, chairwoman of the Mount Anthony Union District Board, Davis approached the board with a desire to end his employment with the district. "Effective today, the Mount Anthony Board and Mr. Davis have mutually, and amicably, ended their employment relationship," Oller said in an interview Friday. "The board wishes Mr. Davis well in his future endeavors."
She would not speak about details of the agreement and Davis has declined to speak to the press while his criminal matters are pending.
Judge Cortland Corsones modified Davis’ conditions on Friday so that his curfew at the inn is from 1 p.m. and 9 a.m. His ability to travel to Bennington, however, is limited. He can only enter the town to keep appointments with his attorney, doctors, court hearings, and supervised visits with his children through the Family Time program. Corsones also allowed one-time exemptions so Davis can obtain a vehicle from a local dealership - which was a pre-scheduled arrangement, according to Davis’ attorney - and file for unemployment benefits with the Department of Labor at the Bennington State Office Complex where the court is also housed.
Davis, who had been on medical leave from Mount Anthony Union High School, indicated through court filings and arguments made Friday at the motion hearing that he is seeking new employment. Davis had taught math and science and is well-liked by students.
Davis’ troubles became public early in the year when he made a series of video postings on YouTube and Facebook in which he was critical of the school district and teachers’ union. Police became involved when they conducted a welfare check on him after neighbors reported seeing him taking a rifle to his vehicle from his home. Police and the public in general were still sensitive from hearing about the shootings in Newton, Conn., where a gunman took the lives of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in mid-December.
Davis voluntarily surrendered the rifle and its ammunition magazines after telling police he was moving the weapon into storage. He willingly submitted to psychiatric screening and was held until Jan. 22 in a mental health facility. In the meantime, his wife filed for and was granted a relief from abuse order, commonly called a restraining order, which prevented him from contacting her, his children, or going near their house in North Bennington.
Davis did not have an attorney for the criminal matters initially and on Tuesday, while under his 24-hour curfew, he went to the State Office Complex to file a motion to have the curfew amended so he could find more permanent housing and a job. While there he gave a copy of the motion to the State’s Attorney’s Office and was cited for violating the curfew by being in the office’s lobby.
Davis is now represented by Public Defender Susan Keane McManus, who asked Corsones to review probable cause on the curfew violation charge and said she would likely file motions to have it dismissed.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr