Former teacher admits felony trespass
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | February 28,2013
BENNINGTON — A former Mount Anthony Union High School teacher who attracted national attention after he posted online what some called disturbing comments and had a semiautomatic weapon confiscated by police, resolved all his outstanding criminal charges Wednesday with no jail time.
Steven P. Davis, 35, of Troy, N.Y., was not charged in relation to the posts about educators at the high school and administrators at the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union nor in relation to the Bushmaster semiautomatic assault rifle that police confiscated.
Instead he was charged on Jan. 28 with a felony charge of unlawful trespass into an occupied home and a misdemeanor charge of violating an abuse prevention order obtained by his wife. On Feb. 6, he was charged with a misdemeanor count of violating the conditions set when he was released on Feb. 6.
Davis pleaded guilty Wednesday to the unlawful trespass under an agreement through which he will not be sentenced for 18 months. If he has no further legal troubles during that time, the charge will be dropped and he will not have a criminal record.
The state dismissed the two misdemeanor charges.
During the hearing, Davis admitted that on Jan. 27 he broke into the home he once shared with his wife which was a violation of an abuse prevention order issued on Jan. 15.
Davis declined to comment during the hearing and after the hearing Wednesday.
Susan McManus, the attorney who represented Davis, asked Judge Cortland Corsones to accept what she called a “very reasonable” offer made by the state.
“I think this period of time represents a very difficult period for my client in his life. He was a very dedicated educator here in town, a very dedicated family member and husband and as a result of some mental health issues his life has changed drastically. He hopes to, by taking responsibility extending forward and moving on from today, move on with his life in a positive direction,” she said.
Bennington County Deputy State’s Attorney Alexander Burke said the state believed Wednesday’s resolution to the charges was fair and reasonable because it included conditions of mental health care treatment and elements from the abuse prevention order to protect public safety.
Davis’ case attracted national attention because of concerns that his behavior, which included posting messages on social media sites critical of his fellow educators and possession of a Bushmaster semiautomatic assault rifle with about 500 rounds of ammunition and two magazines that his wife told police she didn’t know he had, could present a threat to the school, its students and staff.
Local police who investigated Davis said they found no evidence that he had made direct threats or planned to take any violent action. However, they did confiscate the assault rifle with Davis’ cooperation.
After being released from a mental health facility, however, Davis went back to his old home in Bennington and broke in. Police said they found shoes and photos missing from the house.
During hearings on the criminal charges, Davis said he planned to move to Troy and look for a new job there. He also told the court he was no longer working for the high school as of February.