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Ex-Davis Aide Admits to Molesting 2 Boys in 1970s

November 16, 2005|Jean Guccione | Times Staff Writer

A prominent Democratic political consultant in Sacramento has testified that he molested two boys more than 30 years ago while working at a Los Angeles-area YMCA.

The admission from John Robert Stevens -- a former high-ranking advisor to Gov. Gray Davis and Assembly speakers Antonio Villaraigosa, Herb Wesson and Fabian Nunez -- came in a lawsuit accusing the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles of failing to protect two brothers from Stevens' abuse.

Attorney Raymond Boucher said he was "dumbfounded" when Stevens, who at first denied any sexual misconduct with children, admitted during a deposition to molesting Wes and Trent Evans, 13 and 10 respectively, in South Gate in the 1970s, when he was in his early 20s.

Stevens "is ashamed and would like to find a way to make it right," said Boucher, whose law firm represented Stevens in his deposition. Stevens is not a defendant in the suit but is expected to testify when the trial begins Dec. 5 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Stevens, through an associate, declined to comment. After nearly 20 years in state government, Stevens, 59, retired in January, three months before he gave the deposition.

He was one of Davis' top energy advisors and worked on several projects, including the governor's effort to keep utilities out of bankruptcy. Davis in 2001 named him to the Public Utilities Commission, where he served for a single day, casting a key vote to temporarily raise residential electricity rates by about $5 a month.

Before working for Davis, Stevens spent a decade as staff member to the Assembly Transportation Committee. He also was transportation consultant to state Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Culver City).

"Anybody who knows anything about politics in California, particularly in Sacramento, knows this man," said Boucher, who has been friends with Stevens for many years. "He was so vital to the process up there."

Stevens' deposition is under a judge's protective order, but attorney Katherine K. Freberg, who represents the Evans brothers, attached portions of it to pretrial motions she filed in court. Her lawsuit contends that YMCA officials knew that Stevens was a pedophile.

"The YMCA promised to develop the bodies, minds and spirit of these boys. Instead they put them in the hands of a pedophile and in the process destroyed their souls," Freberg said.

YMCA lawyer Stephen H. Haber, however, denied in court papers that YMCA officials knew about the abuse.

"Our defense has always been that we did not know," Haber said in a phone interview Tuesday.

The YMCA also disputes the brothers' contention that the molestations caused their problems, including alcoholism and drug addiction, which the organization says could stem from other factors, including a "genetic predisposition for alcohol and drug use," according to court papers.

According to the deposition, Stevens testified in April that he fondled and masturbated Wes Evans, then 13, during a YMCA-sponsored overnight "caravan trip" to the Sierra. At the time, Stevens was youth director of the Rio Vista YMCA in South Gate.

"Did you ever molest Wes Evans?" attorney Freberg asked Stevens.

"Yes," he replied.

Stevens also said he later fondled and masturbated Wes' younger brother, Trent, 10, in his apartment near Compton.

In their lawsuit, the Evans brothers also accused Stevens of raping and orally copulating them repeatedly between 1971 and 1974, when their family moved away. They said they were molested on YMCA-sponsored overnight trips and at weekend sleepovers in Stevens' later living quarters, a converted storage room on YMCA premises.

Stevens, in his deposition, denied the rape and oral copulation charges. He said that abuse did not occur on YMCA property or at its events, and that it did not involve illegal drug use. He also testified that he did not molest any other children.

But another man is expected to testify at trial that he too was raped by Stevens and another male YMCA worker, whose name he cannot recall, Freberg said. The Times does not name alleged sexual abuse victims without their consent.

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