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U. Montana Might Expel Football Players Charged With Assault

This story was written by Michael Gerrity, Montana Kaimin

For now, the three University of Montana football players charged with an on-campus beating of a UM student will stay out of jail pending trial.

Their presence on campus, however, may not last much longer.

The University is in the process of expelling them, said Jason Marks, a deputy Missoula County attorney.

Justin Montelius, 19, Andrew Douglass, 18, and Cody Von Appen, 18, all appeared in Missoula County Justice Court Wednesday as directed by a summons they received after the charges were filed against them last week.

Marks said that during the expulsion process, the three freshmen have been directed by UM to follow certain conditions pending their trial, including restriction from certain areas of campus. He said he did not know which parts of campus those were.

Charles Couture, dean of students at UM, said earlier this week the players were still enrolled in classes. He declined to comment Wednesday on whether they were facing expulsion.

In court on Wednesday, Judge Karen A. Orzech ordered the three defendants to obey any UM sanctions facing them and forbade them to discuss the case with one another or contact the victim.

UM Athletic Director Jim ODay said the three are on probation with Griz football and are still attending practice.

The defendants are scheduled to next appear at a preliminary hearing on Oct. 22.

The three redshirt freshman are accused of assaulting student Jesse Johnson, who was walking with his girlfriend, just before 2 a.m. on Sept. 19 near Duniway and Miller halls.

According to court records, a security-camera recording shows the three students closing in on the two and attacking Johnson, leaving him with broken and chipped teeth and a broken jaw, which had to be wired shut.

Montelius private attorney, Paul T. Ryan, said he anticipates his client will plead not guilty at his upcoming arraignment, and that he expects the co-defendants attorneys will follow suit.

Ryan said Montelius role as an instigator in the case has been unfairly laid out.

He certainly did not intend for the kid getting hurt, Ryan said, adding that he has not seen the security-camera recording.

According to the affidavit filed against Montelius, earlier that day Johnson stepped in between Montelius and Johnsons friend to prevent an argument from escalating into a fight.

According to the affidavit, Montelius said he then called Von Appen, Douglass and Joshua Stuberg and said he had been in a fight and needed their help.

Johnson told investigators that just prior to the 2 a.m. attack he received a call on his cell phone from Montelius demanding to know where Johnsons friend was, but Johnson refused to tell him.

Stuberg is being treated as a witness in the case but did not participate in the assault, which was confirmed in the security-camera recording.

According to the affidavit, Von Appen told the police Montelius admitted the next day that he lied about being assaulted.