U. Montana Football Players Charged With Aggravated Assault

This story was written by Mike Gerrity, Montana Kaimin


ThreeUniversity of Montanafootball players have been summoned to appear in court next week on felony charges of aggravated assault that occurred on campus over a week ago, according to court records. The players, all freshmen, are charged with beating University of Montana student Jesse Johnson near the north side of Duniway Hall, leaving him with several cracked and chipped teeth and a broken jaw, which had to be wired shut.

So far, none of the three have been arrested and all were present at football practice Tuesday afternoon.

In complaints filed with Missoula County Justice court on Monday and Tuesday against the three defendants, Johnson was walking toward Miller Hall with his girlfriend just before 2 a.m. on Sept. 19 when he was approached by Justin Montelius, a safety on the team, Andrew Douglass, a linebacker and Cody Von Appen, defensive back for the Griz. According to the affidavit, police obtained security camera footage of the incident that shows Von Appen throwing the first punch at Johnsons head, which he told police had knocked him unconscious.

The tape then shows Douglass punching and kicking Johnson as he lay at Douglass feet. As he tried to get up, the tape showed Von Appen pushing Johnson while Douglas punched him again before the three fled. When Public Safety officers found Johnson, he was bleeding with severe contusions to his head and face, as well as a broken jaw.

Johnson told police that one of his friends had been involved in an argument with Montelius earlier that day, but Johnson restrained his friend and took him home before it escalated into a fight. Montelius later called Johnson on his cell phone and demanded to know where his friend was. Johnson refused to divulge his whereabouts.

Douglass has been charged with one felony count of aggravated assault, while Montelius and Von Appen have been charged with accountability for aggravated assault, all of which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg said none of the players have been arrested because as students of the university, they are not considered flight risks.

In the last year and a half where felony charges have been filed against Griz football athletes, this is the first case in which the suspects have not been arrested after being charged.

Theres no need to arrest them, Van Valkenburg said.Von Appens father, Fred Von Appen, was an assistant head coach and defensive ends coach for Griz football from 2001 until 2003.

UM Vice President Jim Foley said that the office of Public Safety conducted their investigation and the matter has been turned over to the city.

Well continue to monitor it over the course of the next few days, Foley said.

All three players have been summoned to appear in Missoula County Justice Court on Wednesday, Oct. 8, at 3:00 p.m.
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