San Diego resident David A. LaVera entered a written plea of not guilty Monday after being arrested last week for allegedly luring a 14-year-old Baxter girl into his vehicle with intent to commit an illegal sexual act.
LaVera — who worked on the 2000 horror film “Underground” filmed primarily in Newton at the former Maytag Plant 2 — has been charged with enticement of a minor, a Class D felony; carrying weapons, an aggravated misdemeanor; and failure to have a valid driver’s license, a simple misdemeanor. He is being held on a $50,000 bond in the Jasper County Jail.
According to court documents, the 33-year-old engaged in inappropriate conversation of a sexual nature with the Baxter girl on Facebook while knowing she was a minor and also told her he had appeared in the “Twilight” movie series. Court records state LaVera persuaded the girl to meet him on June 10 at the Baxter Community School Park, where he allegedly touched her inappropriately on the buttocks before luring her into his vehicle and driving around the Baxter area.
Authorities were notified of the incident at 1:28 p.m. Shortly after, a concerned citizen aware of the situation observed the girl in LaVera’s vehicle, stopped the vehicle and told her to exit the vehicle. LaVera was apprehended a short time later. During a search of his vehicle, authorities found a sword exceeding eight inches in length and four double-edged daggers within his reach.
Following LaVera’s arrest, it was determined LaVera visited Berg Middle School and Aurora Heights Elementary School and attended the BMS pool party during the final week of school. Newton Community School District Superintendent Bob Callaghan spoke at a press conference Wednesday, stating two parents and a student recommended LaVera as a guest speaker at the schools. Callaghan said LaVera signed in under his real name but reportedly signed autographs for students with the name “Kiowa Gordon,” an actor who appeared in the “Twilight” series.
“No one had any reason to believe he wasn’t anybody other than Dave LaVera,” Callaghan said Wednesday. “We don’t know what he was doing with students when he was signing his autographs. All I can tell you is, from the schools’ perspective, he signed in as David LaVera, he was introduced as David LaVera and everyone in the school administration and school personnel believed he was David LaVera.”
Newton Police Chief Jeff Hoebelheinrich also said authorities are investigating a report indicating LaVera allegedly took a 14-year-old Newton girl for a walk in the park and asked her to “sneak out later so that they could make out.” LaVera has not been charged in connection with the Newton incident.
LaVera is scheduled to appear in court for a pre-trial conference at 2 p.m. July 2.