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Trial begins for Dodge County LDS leader accused of sexually assaulting juvenile

Michael Adam Davis, 37, is facing multiple felony charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a juvenile as a church leader in Dodge County.

Michael-Davis.png
Michael Adam Davis.
Contributed / Dodge County Sheriff's Office
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MANTORVILLE — The first day of the trial for a Dodge Center man charged with sexually assaulting a minor he met through his position as a men’s leader at The Church of Latter-Day Saints in Kasson began Tuesday.

A jury of eight men and six women heard opening statements and testimony from two state witnesses against Michael Adam Davis, 37, who 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.

“Mr. Davis used and then abused a family’s trust, a 13-year-old boy’s trust and members of his church’s trust,” Olmsted Assistant County Attorney Geoffrey Hjerleid said in his opening statement, later adding that Davis did so from a position of authority over the juvenile.

Davis was the Elders Quorum President at The Church of Latter-Day Saints in Kasson. He 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.

Hjerleid, from Olmsted County, is prosecuting the Dodge County case due to a previous staffing shortage in the Dodge County Attorney’s Office.

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Hjerleid told the jury he plans on describing in detail what the victim accuses Davis of doing during Christmas break in 2019.

Davis’ defense counsel, Thomas Braun, of Rochester, told the jury to scrutinize witnesses carefully due numerous areas of reasonable doubt.

“This case is about one thing, credibility,” Braun said in his opening statement. “The credibility of (the alleged victim).”

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The Post Bulletin generally does not name alleged survivors of sexually assault.

District Judge Jodi Williamson is presiding over the case.

Both Braun and Hjerleid told the jury that testimony from the alleged victim may be inconsistent. Though, Hjerleid said this may be due to the juvenile’s age and trauma while Braun said the evidence is inconsistent, and the accusations only emerged following an alleged fist fight with another juvenile.

Jurors heard from Olmsted County Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Prins, the law enforcement officer who pulled Davis over Feb. 17, 2019, the initial incident that triggered law enforcement’s eventual investigation into Davis.

Prins, a 17-year veteran of the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office, told the jury that he originally pulled Davis over while on patrol in Dodge Center. Prins said he could see, what turned out to be the alleged victim in this case, moving around in the vehicle Davis was driving in a way where he knew he was not buckled.

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Following the traffic stop and running Davis’ plates, Prins found Davis to be a registered sex offender following convictions in 2003 and 2006 in Utah.

Prins told the jury a typical traffic stop for him would last about six to seven minutes though this one lasted more than 40 minutes due to him finding something of concern when he checked Davis’ background.

The jury was not told of Davis’ past convictions due to those convictions being inadmissible in court under Minnesota statute.

Prins told the jury that the alleged victim’s mother picked the juvenile up, and Prins told Davis to tell the mother why the stop was taking so long.
Due to the juvenile’s age, Davis was given the seat belt citation.

Under cross examination, Prins told the jury that the alleged victim did not appear to be crying or afraid.

Jurors also heard from Kasson-Mantorville School Resource Officer Jesse Kasel who questioned the alleged victim during school shortly after the traffic stop at the direction of his superior to see if the alleged victim would tell him anything.

Kasel, a 12-year veteran of the Kasson Police Department, told jurors that during his March 5 conversation with the alleged victim they talked about various things before he asked about Davis, when the juvenile became noticeably less upbeat and energetic.

“He kind of got a little bit more serious,” Kasel said in court.

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In response to being asked by Braun why he didn’t record the conversation, Kasel said his questioning wasn’t an investigation, and he was only talking to the alleged victim to see if the juvenile would disclose anything to him. If the juvenile did, Kasel said, he would have started recording.

Williamson said in court she expects the case to take up the rest of the week.

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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