A trial was set for March 11, 2020 to determine if 23 year old Joseph Matthew Smith was a sexually violent predator pursuant to Iowa Code 229A.5 (2). On January 9, 2020 the office of the Iowa Attorney General filed a motion to dismiss the case.
“The State is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the Respondent suffers from a mental abnormality that makes it more likely than not that he will engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined for treatment,” it reads. “In light of the evaluation results of the State’s expert, the State does not have sufficient evidence to proceed in this case.”
The reason for this change is linked to further evidence related to hormone levels according to Lynn Hicks, communications director for the Attorney General's office.
“In general, an offender’s hormone levels are among the criteria that are considered,” he said.
In 2017 Smith is said to have expressed an interest in changing to female pronouns. According to the Storm Lake Times, in November Smith was “undergoing medical treatment that is needed prior to (Smith) potentially undergoing gender reassignment surgery.”
The report which was seeking to have Smith confined at the Cherokee Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders was "based on a male sex drive."
District court judge David Lester granted the motion “in the interests of justice” which determined that Smith “should be released from the confinement previously ordered in these proceedings, and (Smith) should no longer be required to answer to the Petition of the State of Iowa alleging that (Smith) is a sexually violent predator.”
The report, which was seeking to maintain Smith's confinement, listed his chances of re-offending at 20%, below the 51% required to prove an offender will offend again according to forensic psychologist Dr. Tracy Thomas.
The report included in it's reasoning though, that Smith's victims which may have numbered as high as 15, all below the ages of 13, were both male and female, and that he had himself been molested as a child beginning at the age of 7 while living in Louisiana.
“From an evaluator’s standpoint, our recommendation is based on whether someone is more than likely to re-offend,” Thomas said on Monday the 13th. “Between 5% and 15% of sex offenders re-offend, so it takes an extraordinarily high burden to prove someone has a 51% chance.”
According to Smith's sex offender registry page, he is still listed as a male. The Iowa Standard asked if this would change, and Hicks stated he would check as he didn't know if this had ever happened before.
Hicks cautioned that people shouldn't overreact to Smith's release since Smith will be subjected to the same monitoring as other sex offenders. “She’ll be subject to supervision for the rest of her life,” he said.