View Full Version : Missoula deputy faces sex assault charges(long)

02-01-2005, 08:17 PM
The reason I am posting this in the husbands and boyfriends forum, is because you all know my fiance is located in the Montana State Prison, and although I cannot comment on the article I am posting in here for legal purposes, I wanted some opinions on what the State should do if this deputy is put in prison for what he did to me, in regards to people I know that live here. Any suggestions would be helpful, please if you want to, you can pm me. Girls, (and guys) this is a very touchy subject that has caused much heartache and hurt in my life.

Missoula deputy faces sex assault charges
By COLIN McDONALD of the Missoulian

A Missoula County sheriff's deputy already suspended from duty has been charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another.

Steve Nelson, who has been on administrative leave since September and suspended since November, faces single felony counts of sexual intercourse without consent and sexual assault. Nelson, 39, is also charged with a misdemeanor count of unlawful restraint.

Nelson, a deputy since January 1995, was arrested Tuesday after an investigation by his own department implicated him in separate incidents in May 2004 and early January. Nelson made an initial appearance before District Judge Douglas Harkin on Wednesday. Bail was set at $200,000.

The case was filed by Chief Deputy Missoula County Attorney Karen Townsend, who said she'll meet Monday with staff from the state attorney general's office. Prosecutors there are expected to take over the case to avoid the appearance of a conflict.

Nelson is being held in a jail outside Missoula County for his safety, Missoula County Sheriff Mike McMeekin said Thursday. Nelson's next court appearance is Jan. 25 before Harkin.

According to Townsend, the charges stem from an investigation that began just over a week ago, when sheriff's Deputy Doug Hartsell Jr. was contacted Jan. 10 by the woman allegedly involved in an assault on Jan 6.

The woman told Hartsell that Nelson assaulted her after a night of drinking at Fred's Lounge and the Trails End Bar on West Broadway. The woman said she wound up in her own pickup truck with Nelson, who eventually "became very aggressive and began to grope her . . . ," Townsend's affidavit states.

"She attempted to yell at him to stop and force him away, and he grabbed her right arm and forced her arm behind her back in a gooseneck/arm-lock suppression hold," the affidavit states.

The woman told Hartsell that she escaped from Nelson by hiding in a group of trucks parked at the Crossroads Truck Stop.

"(The woman) said that she has never been so scared in her life before this incident," the affidavit states.

The woman's allegations were recorded in a written memo Hartsell sent to sheriff's Capt. Carl Ibsen on Jan. 12. Ibsen told McMeekin about the woman's claims, and the sheriff initiated an investigation. He asked Jerry Crego, a retired captain of detectives, to conduct the inquiry. Questioned by Crego, the woman reiterated the claims she made to Hartsell, and also identified Nelson in a photographic lineup.

When the January allegations surfaced, the county also reopened another investigation into Nelson's behavior. That case arose in October, shortly after a letter sent to an inmate at the Missoula County Detention Facility was intercepted.

That letter, written by a former employee of the facility to an inmate, claimed Nelson had raped her in his home sometime in May 2004. At the time of the alleged rape, Nelson was an active duty deputy with the Missoula County Sheriff's Department.

That woman claimed that she had been out drinking with Nelson at Rowdy's Cabin and later went back to his nearby home, where Nelson told her she could sleep on the couch, court records state.

"She said some time during the night the person held her down on the couch, pushed her head into the pillow so that she had trouble breathing, jerked her arm up behind her back so hard it was very painful and raped her," Townsend's affidavit states.

The intercepted letter subsequently became the basis of an investigation by sheriff's Detective Steve Ruguleiski. The detective confirmed the woman's story in an interview and subsequently interviewed Nelson.

Court records state that Nelson admitted having a personal relationship with the woman, but said that sex with the woman had been consensual.

That investigation was eventually referred to the county attorney's office, but the case was not prosecuted. Townsend said she didn't know why the case was declined for prosecution. However, when the January allegations surfaced, the case was resurrected.

"The case was re-examined and reviewed after we got information about the later victim," Townsend said.

Nelson has been at the center of an investigation and inquiry by the Sheriff's Department since September, when he was placed on administrative leave with pay.

That leave came after Nelson was suspended for two days in July because he violated a handful of department rules regarding interactions with civilians. On July 3, Nelson gave a woman a ride in his patrol car during his shift. He then let the woman into the back offices of the department, where, at least in theory, she would have been able to see him write confidential reports.

Allegations later arose that Nelson may have had inappropriate contact with the woman, but Nelson denied that claim, the sheriff said.

McMeekin said he could not discuss why Nelson was placed on administrative leave because of potential violations of federal privacy regulations involving medical issues. That investigation will continue independently of the criminal investigation and court proceedings, McMeekin said

"He still has a due process right as an employee," McMeekin said.

Nelson's status with the department changed in November, shortly after the woman allegedly involved in the May incident was interviewed by Ruguleiski. At that time, Nelson was suspended indefinitely without pay. That was his status on the night of Jan. 6, when he allegedly assaulted the second woman.

PTO members, if there is something that should not be in here, please delete, I am not certain on the rules. I would like to know if there are laws against holding this person in the Montana State Prison if he is found guilty, and if so, if there is a way of transferring my fiance to another prison, so that he does not do something very stupid, and gets himself locked up longer. He is very protective of me, and we all know what our loved ones would do to protect us! Love you guys!!!

02-01-2005, 09:14 PM
I would think a cop who's convicted of rape would really, really, really need protective custody in any case.

02-02-2005, 09:44 AM
Since there is only one prison in Montana, a law enforcement officer convicted of any offense like that will be transferred for his own protection to a facility outside the state of Montana. But, since you are obviously one of the victims, you should contact the State Attorney General's Office and let them know that you have a fiance in the prison at Deer Lodge so that they don't slip up and let him in there by mistake. I lived and worked in Montana for almost 7 years and I worked for the State. If you want to protect yourself, and your fiance, call the Attorney General's office in Helena as soon as possible.

02-04-2005, 10:16 AM
Since your loved one is at MSP, I am sure that they will transfer the deputy out of state or send him to Shelby. I am sure that being a deputy, he will be in some sort of protective custody anyway. I agree that you should probably make sure that they are aware that your loved one is at MSP, because you don't want him to have to deal with the deputy and end up getting in some serious trouble. My husband is at MSP and I can only imagine what he would do to someone who hurt me.

07-03-2005, 01:02 PM
Is Montana sending people out of state again? When I worked for the state when I lived up there, they cancelled all out of state contracts because of a death, several near deaths and the attempted escape of a murderer from Helena that was in a CCA facility out of state.

As long as they know that the husband of the victim is also in Deer Lodge, they will put him in PC. But, my husband is in Texas system and was an ex law enforcement officer and they are usually put in PC anyway -- especially in a state with only one major prison -- too much chance of trouble -- let the ex deputy sit for 23 hours a day and don't worry -- your husband may want to protect you but I bet he also wants to come home to you -- let me see -- "kill the deputy stay forever -- leave the deputy to others and get home to my baby?" Seems like a no brainer to me.