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Gianforte to plead guilty to assault charge

Gianforte to plead guilty to assault charge

The Gallatin County Attorney does not oppose the motion. Gianforte attacked Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs last month during a campaign event; according to NPR, he "grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground. then began punching the reporter" after Jacobs approached him during an interview with questions about health care reform.

Gianforte's letter to reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian dated Wednesday is part of a settlement with Jacobs in which the reporter agrees not to object to Gianforte entering a plea of "no contest" to a misdemeanor assault charge. Gianforte is expected to be sworn into office later this month.

A no contest plea would allow Gianforte to concede to the offence without entering a guilty plea.

Gianforte was running in a special election for the U.S. House seat in Montana when Jacobs described being "body-slammed" by the candidate after asking a question about healthcare policy.

Gianforte won the May 25 election with just over 50 percent of the vote. Gianforte yells, "Get the hell out of here!" Democrat Rob Quist had 44 percent and Libertarian Mark Wicks 6 percent.

He said he is making a $50,000 contribution to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-profit organization, following the incident. The New York-based nonprofit was formed in 1981 to promote press freedom and defend the rights of journalists.

Jacobs said in a statement that he accepts Gianforte's apology.

His letter walks that back too, explicitly stating that "you did not initiate any physical contact with me, and I had no right to assault you".

Initially, Gianforte's spokesman said Jacobs had been aggressive toward the candidate. Lambert did not immediately return a call about the terms of a plea agreement.

Jordan Gross, a professor at the law school at the University of Montana, said there are a few reasons someone might admit to a crime publicly but not in court.

One reason is that an admission of guilt in a criminal case can be used in a civil case.

The settlement with Jacobs precludes any civil litigation.

Collateral consequences are things like having to list a conviction on a job application, a loss of a license, or loss of access to public housing and are more common in a felony situation.

An order filed Thursday afternoon says Gianforte will appear at 10 Gallatin County Justice Court before Judge Rick West, where the politician will be arraigned and sentenced for assaulting Guardian newspaper reporter Ben Jacobs.

The no-contest plea has no outcome on sentencing.

"I have accepted Mr. Gianforte's apology and his willingness to take responsibility for his actions and statements", Jacobs said in a statement sent to BuzzFeed News.


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