US: Transgender Inmate Who Raped Infants Deemed Sexually Violent Predator After Previously Securing Release

A serial child rapist who had previously secured a release from prison after identifying as transgender has finally been deemed a “sexually violent predator” under Iowa state law. A judge has determined that Joseph Matthew Smith, who now uses the name Josie Maria Dunham or Josie Smith, should be confined in a secure facility indefinitely, quashing a previous ruling that claimed Smith was no longer a sexual risk due to being on feminizing hormones.

Newly-elected Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird is behind the push to keep Smith in custody, having recently defeated the nation’s longest-tenured attorney general, Tom Miller, in a November election.

In 2020, Miller endorsed the move that saw Smith released from custody. Bird then condemned his judgement in the matter, running ads during her campaign slamming Miller as sympathetic to the sexual predator.

A petition filed in December in Buena Vista County District Court requested a civil trial in order to determine whether Smith should be re-classified as a sexually violent predator with a high chance of re-offending.


“[Smith]’s mental abnormality makes him more likely than not to engage in predatory acts constituting sexually violent offenses if not confined in a secure facility,” the petition reads. “[Smith] should be committed to the custody of the Department of Human Services to be held in a secure facility for control, care, and treatment until such time as his mental abnormality has so changed that he is safe to be at large in the community.”

In December 2015, Smith was convicted in Buena Vista County of lascivious acts with a child. At the time, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Schoonhoven determined that Smith suffers from “at least one mental abnormality, specifically the mental abnormality of pedophilic disorder,” which predisposes Smith to “commit sexually violent offenses to a degree constituting a menace to the health and safety of others.”

A pre-sentence psychological report was prepared by the State’s expert, Dr. Jeffrey Davis, a psychologist from the University of California.

Davis recommended that Smith be confined at the Cherokee Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders (CCUSO) for an indefinite period based on what he determined to be a high likelihood of sexual re-offending. The report noted that Smith had told a state forensic psychologist he had molested as many as 15 children under the age of 13, the youngest being a 1-year-old baby. He added that he believed Smith was more likely to commit a sexual assault than 92% of male sex offenders.

There has not been even one recorded case of a female patient having been committed to the CCUSO in the unit’s 25-year history, reports the Cherokee Chronicle Times. But there have been at least three trans-identified males in the civil commitment unit. One of those patients, a man named Christian Schiebel who uses the feminine name Tina Keller, told the Storm Lake Times-Pilot he was advised by his attorney that a transgender identity would increase his chances of release.

Smith made international headlines in 2020 after being released from prison just 4 years into an indefinite prison sentence. He had been convicted of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old resident at Midwest Christian Services (MCS), a treatment facility for juveniles following another conviction for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old when he was a teenager.

Despite his record of sexual offending, on January 9, 2020, the Iowa Attorney General’s office filed a motion to dismiss a petition requesting that the serial pedophile be considered a sexually violent predator. The Iowa Attorney General office’s defended the decision by citing Smith’s reduced testosterone levels as a result of hormone treatments. Attorney general spokesman Lynn Hicks stated that “an offender’s hormone levels are an important part of substantiating an offender’s likelihood of recidivism.”

Officials claimed Smith was at a lower risk of re-offending due to an altered testosterone level, and that he “no longer had the sex drive of a man.”

Smith had been receiving hormones related to his self-declared gender identity while being held at Newton Correctional Facility, where, in January 2016, he began serving an indefinite sentence after being convicted of molesting a child. In October 2017, he first expressed a desire to “get started on transgender classification” and started using female pronouns.

Hicks also claimed that an expert had determined that Smith was not at a risk of re-offending due to his gender identity. An Iowa district court judge therefore granted the motion to dismiss “in the interests of justice.”

In January of 2020, Smith was released on parole; but by October of 2021, he had already violated the terms of his strict conditions by using an unauthorized electronic device and seeking out sex. Despite the violation, Smith was not remanded to custody, and was instead allowed to continue to live in the small city of Sloan, Iowa.

In January 2022, Christine Louis, administrative law judge for Iowa Correctional Services, sentenced Smith to two more years in prison, as he had again violated the terms of his parole. During an inspection in January, Smith’s parole officer discovered child pornography on his phone which depicted boys and girls aged between five and eight years old. Smith requested leniency, but was ultimately denied.


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Genevieve Gluck

Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.

Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.
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