Former Spencer pastor released from prison
Former Spencer pastor Kevin Grimes was granted an early release and left the Newton Correctional Facility on Monday morning, according to records officials at the Iowa Department of Corrections.
District Court Judge Don E. Courtney ordered the release Friday after hearing from Clay County Attorney Kristi Busse and defense attorney Aaron Hamrock.
Grimes was originally sentenced to five years in prison on May 15. Previous time served and compliance incentives gave Grimes a tentative discharge date of Oct. 4, 2019, according to Iowa Department of Corrections records.
Courtney said he factored in Grimes’ family and financial circumstances as well as the pastor’s prior criminal record and social history when reconsidering the sentence.
“The court finds that the defendant’s term of incarceration shall be reconsidered and the defendant shall be immediately released from custody and placed on probation,” Courtney said, in an order sent to Newton on Friday. “All other provisions of the court’s May 15 judgement and sentence are to remain in full force and effect.”
The former DaySpring Assembly of God pastor and director of the nonprofit Spencer Dream Center was the focus of a state investigation, which came to light in the spring of 2016. Grimes admitted a year later at sentencing that he sent inappropriate text messages and lewd images to the vulnerable young men he was in a position to help. Iowa DCI Special Agent Trevor Modlin also learned that Grimes engaged in touching of at least one victim's waistline, upper thigh and buttocks, according to the initial criminal complaint.
Information from four men led to the charges. It is illegal for counselors in Iowa to initiate a sexual relationship with the clients they serve.
Grimes originally faced four Class D felony counts and two aggravated misdemeanor counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. Two of the felony counts and an aggravated misdemeanor charge were dropped as part of the plea agreement reached in May.
One of the victims who testified at Grimes sentencing hearing expressed opposition to the former pastor’s release.
“Knowing him, he’s lying about being sorry,” he told Courtney in a Nov. 3 victim impact note to the judge. “If he kept this going his whole life, you think he’s going to be sorry in four months? It would be irresponsible to allow him out at this time. He’s not sorry.”
Under Friday’s amended sentence, Grimes has five days to report to the probation office in Sheldon. He will have to register with the Iowa Sex Offender Registry and Courtney ordered Grimes to attend and complete a sex offender treatment program.
“That program may be completed in the state of Iowa or the state of California,” Courtney ruled.
Grimes arrived in Spencer with his family from California in 2008 and initiated many of the Spencer Dream Center programs through and beyond his role at DaySpring.
Under the pastor’s leadership at the time, the Spencer Dream Center's discipleship program offered faith-based housing options to help participants become free from life-controlling problems including drugs, alcohol, sex addiction, gambling and anger.
The area’s most vulnerable residents also had access to a free medical clinic, a nonprofit coffeehouse, a food pantry and community kitchen.
Grand Ave Community Outreach has taken over many of the charitable efforts — under new leadership — at the same location.