LEWISTON — The Auburn man arrested Friday and charged with the 1993 rape and murder of a college student in Alaska was fired in 2016 from his job at a Livermore Falls residential facility and received an official warning from the state nursing board — in part because two female co-workers complained he had made them feel uncomfortable.

Steven H. Downs (Androscoggin County Jail photo)

Steven H. Downs, a 1992 Edward Little High School graduate, became a licensed registered nurse in 2011, according to Maine Board of Nursing records. On Monday, spokespeople for Central Maine Healthcare and St. Mary’s Health System, among the largest employers of nurses in the area, said Downs had never worked for them.

For at least some period, Downs had worked for Harris House, a 16-bed intermediate care facility for people with complex health issues and intellectual disabilities. It is owned by North Country Associates.

On April 11, 2016, Harris House notified the Board of Nursing that it had fired Downs for “a totality of substandard performance.” A complaint was filed with the board.

In January of that year, according to the board’s records, Downs made statements to a coworker that she said made her “uncomfortable.” Harris House addressed her complaint internally. Downs said he did not mean to upset her and apologized.

In March, a second coworker complained Downs made her uncomfortable one evening “through his words and actions when discussing a resident-care matter.” Downs disputed he was inappropriate.


According to board records, Downs had also made medication safety mistakes. Several times in February and March, he documented that he had administered medications hours before he actually did. In March, he poured medicine into unlabeled cups and placed them in the medication cart. In April, he gave a resident medication in error before it was due.

Downs responded to the complaint that July. He acknowledged the April medication error, but said the facility was busy and short staffed. According to the records, Downs “disagreed with Harris House’s characterization of his performance.”

Messages left Monday for the president of North Country Associates, the owner of Harris House, were not returned.

At the end of 2016, the Board of Nursing offered Downs a consent agreement. If he admitted to the charges, accepted a warning and completed a course in professional boundaries, the board would go no further. Downs agreed and completed the course.

His nursing license remains active. It is unclear where Downs has been working since Harris House.

Downs, 44, has been charged with raping and killing 20-year-old Sophie Sergie in April 1993 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Police in Alaska said DNA from a genealogical database helped link Downs to the crime.


According to a criminal complaint, Sergie had been sexually assaulted, stabbed multiple times and shot in the back of the head, before her body was left in a bathtub.

A reporter at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner has said Downs was a student at the college between 1992 and 1996.

The Maine State Police Tactical Team arrested Downs on Friday afternoon in the parking lot of the Fireside Inn in Auburn. Police also searched his home at 132 Hillcrest St., where they obtained a DNA sample.

Downs is expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday.






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