TEACHER RAPE CASE
Montana judge to be censured over rape comments
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A Billings judge is appearing before the Montana Supreme Court for a public reprimand over his comments about a 14-year-old rape victim.
District Judge G. Todd Baugh is scheduled to appear before the state's highest court Tuesday afternoon for censure, which is a public declaration that he is guilty of misconduct.
Baugh sent Stacey Dean Rambold to prison for just 30 days last year after he pleaded guilty to sexual intercourse without consent.
Baugh said during Rambold's sentencing in August that the teenager was "probably as much in control of the situation as the defendant" and that she "appeared older than her chronological age."
The Supreme Court ordered Baugh to be censured and to be suspended for 31 days.
Baugh has apologized for his comments and is retiring in December.
EXCHANGE STUDENT SHOT
Kaarma defense team wants some proceedings closed
(Information in the following story is from: KECI-TV, http://www.keci.com)
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Defense attorneys are asking a state judge to decide outside the public eye what, if any, evidence of "prior bad acts" might be used as evidence during the deliberate homicide trial of Markus Kaarma in the shooting death a German exchange student.
KECI-TV reports attorney Nate Holloway filed the motion Friday. The county attorney's office does not object.
The motion argues that due to "concentrated media coverage" of the April 27 death of 17-year-old Diren Dede, the information prosecutors seek to present will be made public and available to potential jurors, even if a judge decides it can't be used at trial.
The defense team also filed a motion to move the trial out of Missoula County, arguing the community outcry and news coverage have created a bias against Kaarma that cannot be overcome.
Overall well-being of Montana children declining
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A new report says the overall well-being of children in Montana has slipped compared to other states.
Montana ranked 31st in the annual Kids Count report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Montana ranked 28th in last year's report.
The report ranks states based on 16 indicators of child welfare in areas of economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.
It says Montana made improvements in preschool attendance, 8th-grade math proficiency and on-time graduation, but also says more children live in poverty compared to last year's report.
For the second year running, the report ranks Montana last in the nation for health. The report says that's because the rates for child and teen deaths and for teen alcohol and drug abuse are the highest in the nation.
Bozeman man pleads guilty, helped escaped suspect
(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - A Bozeman man has pleaded guilty to his role in helping an attempted rape suspect after he fled police custody.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Tristan Kane Anacker pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony obstruction of justice. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to dismiss an evidence tampering charge.
Anacker was one of five people charged with assisting 28-year-old Kevin Briggs, who was arrested early on Feb. 1 on suspicion of strangling and trying to rape his former girlfriend. Briggs walked out of an unlocked interview room at the police station and went to an apartment shared by Anacker and Andrew Kranker.
Anacker said he had seen alerts sent out by Montana State University about Briggs' escape, but that Briggs had told him they were lies.
Anacker said Briggs used his cellphone and spent about six hours at his apartment.
CENTRAL MONTANA PLANE CRASH
Central Montana plane crash kills pilot
LEWISTOWN, Mont. (AP) - A single-engine airplane crashed near the Russian Flat airstrip in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, killing the pilot.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer says the Cessna 150 left Bozeman at 12:36 p.m. Monday with one person aboard and crashed about an hour later.
Judith Basin County Coroner Dick Brown says no one witnessed the crash, which happened about 30 miles southwest of Stanford. Brown said he expected to release the pilot's name Tuesday afternoon.
The aircraft was registered to Cow Dog Flyers LLC of Bozeman.
LIGHTNING KILLS COWS
Lightning kills 45 head of cattle near Darby
(Information in the following story is from: Ravalli Republic, http://www.ravallirepublic.com)
DARBY, Mont. (AP) - A bolt of lightning killed 45 head of cattle on a ranch near Darby.
Rancher Jean Taylor tells the Ravalli Republic the cows, calves and a prize bull were crowded under some small crabapple trees on July 14 when the lighting struck.
Taylor says the clap of thunder awakened her at 10:28 p.m.
Taylor says the family spent years building their herd of Black Angus cattle, and now they only have eight to 10 cows left.
Area ranchers helped the family dispose of the dead animals.
Feds grant Montana REAL ID compliance extension
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Department of Homeland Security has granted Montana an extension to comply with stringent federal driver's license rules under the REAL ID Act.
DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy Alan Bersin and Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs Philip McNamara sent Gov. Steve Bullock a letter Friday saying the extension lasts until Oct. 10, 2015.
On Monday, most federal facilities began restricting access to people without REAL ID-compliant identifications. The letter says agencies may accept Montana identifications during the extension period.
The law was passed in 2005 to fight terrorism and prevent identity theft. REAL ID-compliant identifications have layers of security, such as verification of birth certificates, Social Security numbers and immigration status.
Bullock and Attorney General Tim Fox oppose the REAL ID requirements, saying that Montana's driver's licenses are already secure.
Missoula County attorney honored by national group
(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - The National District Attorney Association has honored Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg for taking a stand against the U.S. Department of Justice, which sought to investigate the way his office handled sexual assault cases.
The Missoulian reports Van Valkenburg was one of four attorneys who received the president's award Sunday at the association's board meeting in Denver.
The association's new president, prosecutor Michael Moore of Beadle County in South Dakota, says Van Valkenburg's stand that the DOJ did not have the authority to investigate his office set a precedent for future relationships between the federal government and elected county attorneys.
The DOJ began investigating the way the Missoula police, the Missoula County sheriff's office and the University of Montana handled reports of sexual assaults in 2012. Van Valkenburg refused to cooperate.
ND wants specifics on backlogged grain shipments
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota's congressional delegation is pressing Canadian Pacific Railway to provide specifics on its backlog of grain shipments.
The U.S. Surface Transportation Board told Canadian Pacific and BNSF Railway in June to submit plans to address backlogs in northern Plains states and begin filing weekly updates.
But the state's congressional delegation says Canadian Pacific's weekly report does not include a specific number of past-due rail cars or average lateness.
The railroad did not immediately return telephone calls to The Associated Press on Tuesday.
BNSF Railway reported 3,908 past due rail cars in North Dakota averaging 26 days late. That's down about 14 percent from the previous week.
BNSF says North Dakota had the most past-due rail cars followed by Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota.
ND supe wants Indian culture taught in schools
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler wants American Indian culture taught in the state's classrooms.
Baesler says she wants to establish curriculum similar to Montana's "Indian Education for All" program that mandates Montana schools teach all students about its American Indian tribes and reservations.
Baesler and Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau attended an Indian Education Summit on Tuesday in Bismarck.
Juneau is a member of the North Dakota's Three Affiliated Tribes. She also is a former teacher on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota.
Baesler and Juneau say the idea of the program is to integrate Indian education into existing curriculums such as math, reading, music, history and other subjects.
Juneau says the program "is not Indian education for Indians - it's Indian education for all."