Bennington teacher who made headlines denies felony charge
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | January 28,2013
BENNINGTON — A Bennington high school teacher who made headlines, earlier this month, for being hospitalized after making what some described as “disturbing” comments through social network sites was arraigned on Monday on a felony charge after police said they believed he broke into the home he once shared with his estranged wife.
Steven P. Davis, 35, who now lives in Troy, N.Y., pleaded innocent in Bennington criminal court to a felony charge of unlawful trespass into an occupied home and a misdemeanor charge of violating an abuse prevention order against his wife.
Davis appeared in court without an attorney but said he had hired an attorney who would represent him in future court appearances. He was released on Monday without bail but ordered to observe a 24-hour curfew at the hotel in Troy where he's living.
In an affidavit, Sgt. Michael Plusch, of the Bennington Police Department, said he heard from Davis on Friday, around 10:40 p.m. Plusch said Davis had made accusations that his children were not safe in the home where they were staying.
Plusch said he knew that an abuse prevention order had been filed against Davis on Jan. 15. He said he called Davis back after reviewing the order and told him he could request the order be changed to allow him contact with his children but warned Davis that the phone call Davis had made could be interpreted as an attempt to contact his wife through the police which could lead to Davis' arrest.
Plusch said he met with Anna Deery, who said she provides day care services for Davis' children, on Sunday around 5:30 p.m.
Deery told police that she had seen Davis drive by her home on Saturday around 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Both times, she said she saw Davis turn on to Elm Street where he once lived.
Plusch said he traveled to the area himself and determined there were no places Davis might have visited like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations or professional offices.
“Davis is restricted from coming within 200 feet of the residence ... There is no reason for being on this portion of Elm Street except to drive (past) the residence ... considering he is currently living in Troy, New York,” Plusch said.
According to Plusch, officers received a report later on Sunday that Davis' house had a broken basement window and its doors were open.
Officers who responded found that someone had entered the home, turned off the power and heat and removed two landline phones, several pairs of men's shoes and eight photographs that police believed belonged to Davis.
Plusch said Deery had provided him with copies of postings that Davis allegedly made to the Internet. In one he expressed unhappiness about being denied contact with “the people that matter to me most” even though he had been given a “clear bill of health.” The second posting quoted the Constitution passage on the right to bear arms.
Davis' behavior has attracted national attention after police said they had confiscated a Bushmaster semi-automatic assault rifle, about 500 rounds of ammunition and two magazines although police said the rifle did not appear to have ever been fired.
Davis also sent emails criticizing teachers and administrators at Mount Anthony Union High School.
The school district has hired other teachers to finish out Davis' classes for this year.