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Ghostbear gets 5 years for raping 7-year-old girl


September 12, 2017

Havre Daily News/Floyd Brandt

Edward Harold Ghostbear stands in state District Court in Havre Monday. District Judge Dan Boucher sentenced Ghostbear Monday to 15 years in prison with 10 suspended for raping a 7-year-old girl who was visiting Ghostbear in the Havre homeless shelter where he was staying.

A man who was convicted in 2012 of raping a 7-year-old multiple times in the basement of a Havre church was sentenced Monday afternoon to five years with the Montana State Prison.

District Judge Daniel Boucher sentenced Edward Harold Ghostbear, born in 1977, to 15 years at Montana State Prison, with all but five years suspended and credit for 160 days already served.

Ghostbear's public defender, Travis Cushman, said his client will appeal the guilty conviction.

Ghostbear was sentenced on a misdemeanor charge in January of 2014 after Boucher agreed that the prosecution failed to properly present the charges to the jury. The Montana Supreme Court issued a decision six months later that the court erred in ruling the factors were not established to convict Ghostbear on a felony charge, and remanded the case back to District Court.

Hill County Attorney Jessica Cole-Hodgkinson and Cushman each called one witness to the stand during the sentence hearing.

Havre area Probation and Parole Officer Russ Ostwalt was asked about the pre-sentence investigation. The former Probation and Parole officer who did the investigation, Katie Kuhr, recommended Ghostbear receive 40 years with 20 suspended.

During his testimony, Ostwalt cited Ghostbear's long history of lawful infractions, including a conviction of partner of family member assault in 2011 and nine previous felony convictions that were either dismissed or amended.

Ostwalt testified to a psycho-sexual evaluation that was performed by an expert. Ghostbear is comfortable with dishonesty, he projects a great deal and operates in denial, the assessment said.

"He is egocentric and emotionally immature," Ostwalt read from the assessment.

The assessment also said that Ghostbear's denial of his offense will make sexual offender treatment more difficult. Ghostbear, who was facing a charge of assaulting his girlfriend - the child's mother - when he raped the child is at a moderate level to reoffend, the assessment said.

On cross-examination Cushman asked Ostwalt if he had ever testified in court to conditions of release that had been modified 12 times, as Ghostbear's had been earlier during the hearing. Ostwalt said that had never happened.

Ostwalt said he had never spoken to the victim, adding that was because the victim wanted to move on and not deal with it anymore.

Cushman also asked Ostwalt if he knew that Ghostbear was convicted two years ago and had been out in the public since and is not known to have committed any crimes.

Cushman called his witness, Kyle Pattison, who knew Ghostbear at the church where the offense happened.  

Pattison testified that, up until Cushman had just told him a few minutes before taking the stand, he didn't even know Ghostbear had been convicted of raping the child. He thought the conviction was about his assaulting his former partner.

Pattison said he believed the mother of the child felt scorned in their relationship and the rape accusation was payback.

The charging documents said it was the child who described to investigating officer what and how the rape had happened.

Pattison said raping children is the "most heinous crime anyone could commit" and that Ghostbear was innocent of such a thing, he said. He didn't think Ghostbear was capable of such things.

"I don't know where all this evidence came from that proved him guilty," Pattison said. "I seen someone trying to get his life together ... his girlfriend was pretty troubled."

Cole-Hodgkinson rattled off a list of arrests, repeating some of the things Ostwalt had mentioned earlier, and adding other ones including arrests for burglary and theft charges in 1997; 2002 arrested for terroristic threat; multiple arrests for aggravated assault in 2001 and 2002; two domestic assault arrests in 2008; a charge of abusing an elder in 2006; violation of a protective order in 2009; and 50 infractions while being imprisoned.

Aside from the assault against a former partner, Pattison said, he did not know about the other arrests. If Ghostbear did what he was convicted of, Pattison said, if he were the law he'd "probably nail him pretty good."

With the state statute requiring a minimum of four years and a maximum of a life sentence for sexual crimes against anyone younger than 16, Cole-Hodgkinson recommended 50 years with 25 suspended.

"I think this is about as heinous a crime as someone can commit," she said.

Cushman recommended two years probation to give Ghostbear enough time to go through with and win his appeal.

Boucher said there was no way to do what Cushman recommended, as the minimum is four years and there is no lawful caveat to allow it.

When Boucher gave Ghostbear a chance to speak before sentencing, Ghostbear said he had been having a tough time with the ordeal, that he had children at home and he would never do what he'd been convicted of.

"The facts are simple," Boucher told Ghostbear. "You were found guilty by a jury of your peers. I must go with that. I don't see any way around the minimum."


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