By Tim Eberly
A District Court judge has sentenced Chuck Nottingham to a lengthy probation period after he pleaded guilty to felony stalking and bail-jumping charges in January.
District Judge John Warner on Wednesday sentended Nottingham, 60, to seven years in prison and then suspended the sentence. But Nottingham must serve five years of probation for the stalking charge and two for bail-jumping. The probationary periods will run consecutively.
Warner also ordered Nottingham to pay up to $4,950 in restitution up to $4,000 for counseling for his former wife and his children, Hill County Attorney David Rice said. The rest is for the purchase of hearing aids he required while incarcerated in the Hill County Detention Center.
In a brief statement to the court, Nottingham told Warner that he had not abused his ex-wife, Carly Nottingham, and said he should be in fear of her, Rice said.
Carly Nottingham made a statement as well, saying that her former husband abused her for several years, Rice said.
Nottingham has an upcoming jury trial in City Court on April 24 on domestic abuse charges.
A presentence investigation report revealed that Nottingham, who has presented himself as a decorated Vietnam veteran, never fought in the war, but rather served a few years of active duty in the Army and the National Guard in the United States, Rice said.
Warner also recommended that Nottingham obtain mental health counseling.
Nottingham fled Hill County after he was charged June 14 with molestation of an 8-year-old girl. The former Montana State University-Northern professor and Havre Daily News outdoors columnist took up residence, using the name Chase Hale, in Wyoming. A telephone tip led the Casper Police Department to a thrift shop where Nottingham worked, and he was arrested July 10.
Nottingham was returned to Hill County for trial in October after unsuccessfully fighting extradition. He spent a total of 192 days in jail awaiting trial.
In Nottingham's plea agreement, Rice dropped a felony sexual molestation charge involving the adolescent girl.
Nottingham is living in Billings with his 90-year-old mother, Rice said.