By Ron VandenBoom
Roberta Demarest, former Democratic candidate for House District 91, was arrested Monday by Havre police for failing to appear in a Great Falls court on Jan. 4, to answer to two stalking charges.
The warrants were faxed to the Havre authorities shortly after 9 a.m. after Great Falls police phoned the Havre Police Department requesting assistance in serving the warrants.
Demarest was picked up by officers shortly before noon and transported to jail. She posted bond shortly thereafter.
Great Falls Municipal Court records indicate the charges stem from an incident, or incidents, that occurred in Great Falls in Dec. 1999, where according to the ticket issued at that time, Demarest was supposed to have "caused substantial emotional distress by continued harassment" to a Richard Hopkins, of Great Falls.
A second ticket issued at the same time charges Demarest with causing "substantial emotional distress by continued harassment" to Holly Strong, also of Great Falls.
Justice Court records from Great Falls indicate that Hopkins in June, 1998, had a restraining order issued against Demarest for continued harassment.
The restraining order expired in June, 1999, but was reinstated in Jan., 2000, after the December incidents that led to the tickets and for what Hopkins claimed were continued incidents of harassment. They will remain in effect until Jan., 2001, unless extended.
Court records also indicate Demarest did not appear for the restraining order hearing or on Jan. 4, to plead guilty or not guilty to the harassment charges stemming from the December tickets. But court records do indicate she was notified of the court dates.
Court records do not indicate what form the harassment is to have taken or any of the particulars regarding the allegations.
Attempts to contact Great Falls City Attorney, Dave Gliko, to obtain more information have been unsuccessful and he has not returned repeated calls to his office.
Municipal Court records do indicate that Gliko determined "probable cause" to issue the warrants in Feb. 2000, but as yet there is no explanation as to why the warrants were not executed until Monday.
Demarest indicated in a telephone interview Tuesday, that she was not sure what was going on claiming she had not received any notice of appearance regarding the Great Falls matter.
"I have never been issued any papers," she said.Demarest said she suspects there has been some kind of an error and was not notified of any charges, dates, or locations, regarding the tickets or other court dates in Great Falls. She does claim, however, that she in fact did respond in writing, but not in person, to the restraining order hearing in January.
"In my mind the one has nothing to do with the other," she said. "And I haven't any idea what it's all about. I think basically it was an error."
She said she was totally surprised and shocked when officers came to arrest her Monday.
"I am still waiting to hear from attorneys in Great Falls," she said.
Demarest said she has consulted her personal attorney, but would not give her attorney's name.