Alleged victim testifies in trial against Kasson LDS church leader accused of sexual assault
Jurors heard from multiple witnesses Wednesday that detailed 37-year-old Michael Davis' relationship with a juvenile he's accused of sexually assaulting.
MANTORVILLE — The alleged victim testified Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Dodge County court in the trial of Michael Davis, a former Kasson church leader accused of sexually assaulting a juvenile in his care in 2018.
Davis, 37, is facing two charges of felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one charge of indecent exposure in the presence of a minor with a previous conviction.
The alleged victim testified that Davis sexually assaulted him multiple times over the course of a week over Christmas break December 2018 in Davis’ home.
He said that Davis bought him gifts, like a smartphone and new boots, and would let him play video games when they hung out.
Davis was the Elders Quorum President at The Church of Latter-Day Saints in Kasson where the alleged victim and his mother attended. Davis has since been removed from any positions in the congregation according to Randal Thomas, president of the Rochester Minnesota Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The alleged victim described a friendly relationship with Davis until the start of the assaults.
“I thought he was joking,” the alleged victim said, adding he did not tell anyone about the assaults until months later because he was “scared and embarrassed.”
Davis’ defense counsel, Thomas Braun, of Rochester, pointed out inconsistencies in the juvenile's testimony, both today and over the course of the investigation into Davis.
The juvenile testified that while he doesn’t remember all of the details, he remembers enough. He said he held back information from various people he reported the incidents to, including law enforcement, a doctor, a mental health professional, family and the prosecution, because he wasn’t comfortable talking about the alleged abuse.
The alleged victim’s mother also testified that she learned Davis had a history of contact with juveniles following a Feb. 17, 2019, traffic stop where Davis was cited for no seat belt while driving with the alleged victim.
Davis has two previous convictions involving sexually assaulting juveniles in Utah and is a registered sex offender.
Davis’ convictions are considered inadmissible in court under Minnesota statute.
“I was mad. I was hurt. I was angry,” the mother testified, referring to the concern of Davis being around children.
“I thought something could happen to my son,” she later added.
The mother testified that Davis showed up at her house twice, once to give the alleged victim some boots and once to drop off cookies, after she had told him to stay away from her son.
A harassment restraining order against Davis by the mother was filed May 12, 2019, and outlines concerns she had with Davis being around her and her son. The restraining order also mentions meetings between the family, Davis and Brent Larson, the branch president of the Kasson LDS congregation.
Larson, an LDS church leader, had at least two meetings with Davis, once before the traffic stop and once after, according to the mother, who also testified that church members had talked to her about concerns they had regarding Davis spending time with her son.
She testified that she had spent less time at the church in Kasson because she felt like the church was covering up what was happening.
Both the alleged victim and his father testified Wednesday that Larson had voiced concern with the amount of time Davis was spending with the alleged victim.
Larson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the meetings.
The alleged victim’s aunt also testified that she was told about the abuse by the alleged victim while at a birthday party at the Mall of America March 30, 2019. She told jurors when the group arrived home, she took the alleged victim into her bedroom and wrote down what he had to say about the alleged abuse.
The next day, law enforcement was contacted, according to the mother.
Olmsted Assistant County Attorney Geoffrey Hjerleid is prosecuting the Dodge County case due to a previous staffing shortage in the Dodge County Attorney’s Office.
District Judge Jodi Williamson is presiding over the case.
Testimony will continue Thursday when the state is expected to rest its case.