Deputy County Attorney Lori Adams defended the course of action chosen by the attorney’s office Tuesday on how to handle assault charges against two Glacier High School students.
Misdemeanor assault charges were filed Friday in response to a Sept. 12 incident on the freshman football bus returning from a game in Missoula in which one group of players was allegedly assaulted individually by another group of players.
The assaults allegedly included digital penetration, but Adams explained that a general assault charge is being pursued instead of a sexual assault charge for several reasons, among them the fact that the penalties for each charge — both misdemeanors in this case — are the same.
She said prosecutors spoke with School Resource Officer Jason Parce and each of the victims’ families before making the decision.
“It was agreed by everybody that the assault route was the way to take and everything that we could get accomplished charging them with sexual assault we could get accomplished with assault,” Adams said.
She said calls were made to all of the victims’ families on Friday prior to filing of the charges to give them advance notice. Other than a few calls from those families, Adams said her office had received no calls about the case.
The details revealed in the charging documents confirm that sexual assault charges would have been permitted under the Montana law.
Montana Code (Title 45, Chapter 5, Section 502) defines sexual assault as occurring when a person “knowingly subjects another person to any sexual contact without consent.” Montana law (MCA 45-2-101) further defines sexual contact as “touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of the person of another, directly or through clothing, in order to knowingly or purposely cause bodily injury to or humiliate, harass or degrade” that person, among other possible intents.
The charging documents filed by Adams allege that Charles Victor Calobeer assisted Logan Robert Jones in dragging victims to the back of the bus, where among other acts of assault by multiple students, Jones tried to penetrate four victims with a finger through their clothing, in one case succeeding. They also state that one of the victims told Parce he was told by the aggressors that the act was part of “being initiated.”
A conviction on the charges would allow the court to place Jones and Calobeer, both 15, on probation until they turn 18 or 21, according to Adams. She said they could also be required to undergo the same types of evaluations as they would with a sexual assault conviction.
Adams also responded to a statement made by Flathead County Attorney’s Office Administrator Vicki Eggum regarding the difference between police officers and lawyers in considering how charges are determined.
“We do take into account what the police recommend when we evaluate (a report); however, we are the people who do the actual charging,” Adams said. “It’s not that we ignore the police, we actually listen very much to what their recommendations are; that’s why we called Officer Parce and talked to him about it.”
Jones and Calobeer will have an adjudicatory hearing in youth court on Nov. 10 at 9 a.m. in which they will admit or deny the offenses.
Adams said she and County Attorney Ed Corrigan hope for a speedy resolution to the case.
“The goal is to get the case done as quickly as we could without doing any more harm to the victims but also getting justice done,” Adams said.
Reporter Jesse Davis may be reached at 758-4441 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.