Crime & Courts

Feb 13, 2014 1:45 AM by Victoria Fregoso - Billings

MT lawmaker Priest charged with felony for assault on 4-year-old daughter

RED LODGE - Montana State Senator Jason Sheller Priest (R-Red Lodge) now faces four charges, including felony assault on a minor.

In court documents filed on Tuesday in Carbon County District Court by Assistant Attorney General Mary Cochenour, Priest is accused of grabbing his 4-year-old daughter and throwing her to the ground, causing an injury to her scalp.

Priest, 45, was previously charged with misdemeanor partner/family member assault and resisting arrest. He pleaded not guilty to both charges in Red Lodge City Court.

Priest is currently out on a $1,500 bond. He has yet to be arraigned for the new charges filed on Tuesday.

Other charges filed Tuesday include partner/family member assault, assault, and resisting arrest.

Court documents state that a Red Lodge police officer was called to Priest's home on February 1 to monitor a child pick-up.

The officer was aware Priest was going through a divorce and custody dispute with his wife, Anna Priest, over their three children.

According to court documents, Anna Priest arrived at the home and the officer witnessed Jason Priest call her a derogatory term several times.

Jonathan Trapp, Anna Priest's 's boyfriend, approached the front gate of the house when Priest allegedly charged at him and knocked Trapp to the ground.

The officer ordered Priest to stop but he continued to punch Trapp as he was lying on the ground in a fetal position.

The officer told state prosecutors he struggled to get Priest off of Trapp, and Priest was in a "blind range."

After Priest was detained, the officer discovered the three children, ages 9, 7, and 4, crying by the front window.

Anna Priest was initially called to the house by the youngest child, who was crying and said that her father was swearing at her, court documents state.

While the two parents were talking in front of the house, Anna Priest told detectives that Jason Priest picked up the youngest child, who had made her way to the front door, like a "sack of potatoes" and threw her back into the house and onto the floor.

In a petition for a temporary order of protection, Anna Priest said the girl was thrown eight feet and landed on her head.

After talking to officers, Priest denied throwing his daughter and said he quickly picked her up and put her inside of the house.

Anna Priest also told authorities that while she was talking to Jason Priest, he grabbed her arm and tried to push her down the stairs of the porch.

Priest also denied trying to push her and said he grabbed her shoulder and asked her to leave.

In court documents, officers state that Priest said he feels he responded appropriately but he had a hard time keeping his composure.

Trapp suffered a broken rib in the incident, documents state.

Ambulance medics observed that the 4-year-old girl had a 1-inch area of swelling on her scalp.

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