During our campaign for Attorney General, I underscored my predecessor’s failure to protect children from Sexually Violent Predators like Joseph/Josie Smith. My predecessor  let a transgender child sex predator walk free because of a sex change. But not on my watch. I will do everything in my power to keep Sexually Violent Predators off the streets.   After Smith was released from prison, he reoffended.  Now he is back in prison and slated to be released soon.  My office has filed a Sexually Violent Predator commitment to keep him in a secure facility after his prison sentence expires.

This month, the court sided with me and decided to keep Smith in a secure facility. But the fight isn’t over. I’m hopeful that a trial, now scheduled for April, will uphold this assessment and help keep our communities safe.

/> – Brenna
Sex change can’t free offender from state custody
Judge finds probable cause that Smith will offend again
January 26, 2024

Amber Mohmand, Storm Lake Times Pilot

A Buena Vista County judge found probable cause that Joseph Smith, a convicted sex offender who identifies as a woman, is a sexually violent predator and should not be released from state custody.

Judge Charles Borth ordered the Iowa Department of Corrections to hold Smith, pending an evaluation and a civil trial that will be held in the next 90 days. Borth found the State of Iowa’s argument credible that Smith fits the definition of a sexually violent predator under Iowa Code, and should be confined in a secure facility.

“Exhibits offered by the state, and the arguments presented by counsel, the court concludes that probable cause exists to believe that respondent, Joseph Matthew Smith, is a sexually violent predator,” reads Borth’s order handed down Jan. 8

Attorney General Brenna Bird is seeking the commitment of Smith, regardless of the failed attempt by her predecessor, Tom Miller. Miller’s office asked a judge to commit Smith to the Cherokee Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders in June 2018, but one of Miller’s deputies dismissed the petition nearly 18 months later because Smith, born as a male, identified as a female. She expressed an interest in becoming more feminine and in gender reassignment surgery.

The AG’s office assessed that it would lose a civil trial. Committing Smith would have required a judge determining Smith had a chance of reoffending greater than 50% over her lifetime. Such a finding has never been issued by an Iowa court because it would arguably violate precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court on the indefinite commitment of non-male sex offenders. It didn’t matter that a risk assessment that was previously performed on Smith found that she was more likely to commit a sexual assault than 92% of male sex offenders in Canada.


Miller told KCCI that he couldn’t find an expert that would attest to the AG’s position that Smith was a sexually violent predator.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has since retained an expert, according to court records. William Schmitt, a licensed psychologist of Versova, Wis., conducted an evaluation report of Smith in December. The report has since been sealed by Judge Borth.

The state also noted Smith’s 2012 guilty plea to second-degree sexual abuse in Pottawattamie County, Smith’s 2014 conviction in Buena Vista County, and probation revocation order from 2022 in Woodbury County. All of the convictions stemmed from Smith’s alleged sex crimes. The crime in Woodbury County occurred after Miller dismissed the civil commitment petition and Smith was allowed to walk free. She was allegedly watching child pornography in an apartment in Sloan.

Smith, 27, was convicted in Buena Vista County of lascivious acts with a child in March 2014, stemming from an assault at Midwest Christian Services in Peterson the previous year.

A trial scheduling conference is set for April. Judge John Sandy has been assigned to the case. Smith, who is represented by the Iowa State Public Defender, has yet to file a response to the state’s petition.

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