By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Hill County Attorney's Office has decided not to file criminal charges against Havre Mayor Bob Rice or his son.
The Hill County Sheriff's Department had investigated a complaint filed by Lyle Lossing, husband of Democratic City Council member Emily Mayer Lossing, against Rice and one of his sons, and then referred the case to the County Attorney's Office to decide if criminal charges should be filed.
Lossing alleged Rice and one of his sons assaulted him by coercion, intimidation or threat during a verbal confrontation Dec. 23 at the Holiday Village Shopping Center, Sheriff Greg Szudera said.
"Based on the review of the reports and the witness statements, there will be no criminal charges filed against any of the parties involved," Hill County Attorney Cyndee Peterson said in a press release this morning.
Neither Peterson nor Lossing could be reached for comment today.
Mayor Rice, who is a Republican, said today the incident was entirely verbal, with no punches thrown or any physical contact. Lossing initiated the incident, Rice said.
"He called me a jerk," Rice said.
Rob Rice, who was in Havre visiting his family for Christmas, stepped up to verbally defend his father, "just like your son would," Bob Rice said.
Bob Rice said he tried to act as a peacekeeper during the incident.
The sheriff's report of the incident initially identified the son as William Rice of Utah. The Sheriff's Office later confirmed that the other party was actually Bob Rice's son Rob Rice of San Diego, Calif.
Rob Rice said in an earlier interview that he didn't appreciate his father being called a jerk. His father "takes a lot of grief" but can't do anything about it because of his status as mayor, Rob Rice said.
"If I'm up there and someone disrespects my family, I can do something about it," he said in a Jan. 18 telephone interview from San Diego.
Bob Rice, who was not interviewed by the Sheriff's Office before the complaint was turned over to the County Attorney's Office, said he was interviewed before Peterson made her decision.