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Former LDS leader sentenced to 30 years for sexually assaulting teen in Dodge County

Michael Adam Davis, 38, was convicted of sexually assaulting a juvenile male under his care while Davis was a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leader. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison this week.

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Michael Adam Davis.
Contributed / Dodge County Sheriff's Office
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MANTORVILLE — A former Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leader was sentenced in Dodge County District Court to 360 months in prison for sexually assaulting a juvenile male under his care.

Michael Adam Davis, 38, was found guilty in May 2022 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.

District Judge Jodi Williamson also credited Davis with 229 days for time served and ordered Davis to be under supervised probation for 10 years.

Davis was the elders quorum president at the LDS church in Kasson where the victim and his mother attended. Davis has since been removed from any position in the congregation, according to Randal Thomas, president of the Rochester Minnesota Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Davis sexually assaulted a then-13-year-old boy under his care multiple times over Christmas break in December 2018 in Davis’ home.

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The prosecution, headed by Assistant Olmsted County Attorney Geoffrey Hjerleid, made a motion following Davis' conviction to pursue an upward departure for Davis , meaning a longer sentence than allowed by Minnesota sentencing guidelines. Hjerleid cited Davis' prior convictions related to sexual assaults in Utah, saying due to those past sexual assault convictions in Utah, Davis should face a longer prison sentence.

"Defendant has a long involvement in criminal activity. Defendant has engaged in criminal sexual acts practically his entire adulthood," Williamson wrote in her order.

Davis pleaded guilty to or was charged with multiple crimes involving sexually assaulting people in the early 2000s in Utah while he was a member of the LDS church.

In one case, Davis exposed himself to an 11-year-old child in a public restroom. In another, he sexually assaulted an adult woman with cerebral palsy.

"As a lifetime registered sex offender, Defendant moved to a different state and committed more criminal sexual conduct offenses," Williamson wrote in her ruling.

He received minimal sentences for all his Utah convictions.

"To see this case finally come to a close only means it's the end of this chapter because now comes the healing for the survivors in Utah and Minnesota and their famalies," Michael Benjamin, a witness in the trial, said. "There is no amount of jail time that can ever right the wrong that was caused."

Benjamin, a current Rochester LDS member, testified to the church's leadership structure, a key point that help secure a conviction.

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"Mr. Davis was sentenced to 30 years, but the survivors will live the rest of their lives with what happened," he said.

Davis' lawyer, Thomas Braun, argued to the court that Davis' conviction of lewdness involving a child was not a felony and could not be construed as a crime of violence. Because the lewdness conviction was not a crime of violence, Braun argued, prosecutors should not be able to push for an upward departure for Davis.

Williamson wrote in her order that while that conviction is not considered a crime of violence under Minnesota statute, the court could consider it as factor into whether Davis is a danger to public safety.

Braun also argued that Davis' felony convictions should count as one under Minnesota law because they were committed against the same victim.

“The conduct underlying the convictions is one of a singular behavioral incident that, in the State of Minnesota, would only give rise to a single conviction,” reads part of a memorandum submitted by Braun.

In a statement about Davis' conviction, Thomas wrote, "We are grateful the legal process has moved forward and that justice has been served. We will continue to support and love the victim and family as they continue their healing process."

The victim's mother testified during the trial that she thought the LDS church was trying to cover up the abuse.

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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