by William Skink
Jeremy Calhoun won’t be going to trial over the assault he perpetrated against another student in downtown Missoula last May, but that didn’t stop the sentencing hearing from turning into an opportunity for Calhoun’s lawyers to make the laughable claim that the County Attorney’s office went too hard on Calhoun because Jon Krakauer’s literary focus on past incidents of leniency with regards to the handling of rapists on the Griz roster has rendered them too sensitive:
The state had recommended to substitute Justice of the Peace Alex Beal that Calhoun receive a six-month suspended sentence, which would remain on his record, and 200 hours of community service. Smith contended 200 hours was excessive, and asked for 40 hours community service and a six-month deferred sentence, which would be wiped from his record if he completed the term without issue.
Smith argued that since the release of Jon Krakauer’s “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town” was published in 2015, the Missoula County Attorney’s Office had been seeking unreasonable punishments against UM football players.
“I think judge, that, yes, it’s a serious offense but I also think, and this isn’t Mr. Bloom at all, but since Jon Krakauer’s book came out and we got a new county attorney there’s been a sensitivity toward Grizzly players,” Smith said. “I think they want the appearance they’re not going easy on Grizzly football players” as has been alleged was the practice in the past. “What has happened, then, is that they’re going harder on Grizzly athletes.”
No, 200 hours of community service is not excessive, not when the County Attorney’s office could have brought felony charges for aggravated assault against Calhoun. Here is what the Montana Code Annotated has to say about aggravated assault:
45-5-202. Aggravated assault. (1) A person commits the offense of aggravated assault if the person purposely or knowingly causes serious bodily injury to another or purposely or knowingly, with the use of physical force or contact, causes reasonable apprehension of serious bodily injury or death in another.
Is getting hit in the face/head hard enough to dislodge teeth a serious bodily injury? I would say so. Depending on the strength of a punch and the location of where a punch lands, a blow to the head could result in a brain injury, or even death.
Here is more from the Montanan Code, defining serious bodily injury:
“Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function or process of any bodily member or organ. It includes serious mental illness or impairment.
Getting teeth knocked out is permanent; they don’t grow back. Getting teeth knocked out also impairs the function of the mouth, impacting what kind of food can be consumed. If the County Attorney’s Office really wanted to come down hard on Calhoun, there is an argument that could have been made justifying aggravated assault charges.
Jeremy Calhoun is not out of the legal woods yet. The other incident that resulted in a disorderly conduct ticket has yet to be addressed.
Luckily for Calhoun (who wasn’t deterred from his aggressive behavior, as the new charge of disorderly conduct indicates) he has the Missoulian to drum up some sympathy by amplifying his mommy, who says her son is really sorry for putting a fellow student in the hospital:
Calhoun did not make a statement to the court, although his mother came with a prepared letter, and apologized directly to Ward and his family.
“This isolated incident does not define my son’s character,” she said, fighting back tears as she spoke. “He’s not a violent person. He was not raised to be violent … We pray we’re all able to learn and move forward with our lives.”
Jeremy Calhoun is a lucky man. Despite an emerging pattern of aggressive behavior, the County Attorney’s office let the entire summer go by before finally getting around to pleading this out with what still amounts to, in my opinion, a pretty lenient sentence. And his punishment from UM’s football program was a measly 3 game suspension.
Since Calhoun is not supposed to be at bars for the next 2 years, the partying will have to be at house parties.