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National Anthem Assault Suspect Remains Free After Not Guilty Plea

Curt Brockway (R) and his attorney Lance Jasper (L) during Brockway's August 14, 2019 arraignment in Superior, MT for assault on a minor.
Edward O'Brien
Montana Public Radio
Curt Brockway (R) and his attorney Lance Jasper (L) during Brockway's August 14, 2019 arraignment in Superior, MT for assault on a minor.

A man from Superior accused of assaulting a 13-year-old boy who the suspect felt was disrespecting the national anthem pleaded not guilty to assault Wednesday. He remains free without bond.

Army veteran Curt Brockway made his first court appearance before District Judge John Larson in Mineral County Wednesday.

To the charge of Felony Assault on a Minor, Brockway pleaded not guilty.

The 39-year-old Brockway is accused of body slamming a 13-year-old-boy who Brockway said refused to remove his ball cap during the national anthem, and cursed at him at the Superior Lions Club Rodeo on August 3.

According to court documents, Brockway is accused of grabbing the boy by his throat, lifting him into the air and slamming him into the ground. Court records say the child bled from his ear after the attack, suffered a concussion and a fractured skull.

Brockway’s attorney, Lance Jasper, is seeking a mental health evaluation for his client.

The assault allegation comes six months after Brockway’s release from supervision from a 2010 incident in which he randomly threatened to kill a family of three. He was sentenced to 10 years with the Department of Corrections, but that sentence was suspended and Brockway was placed on probation. He met all his conditions to be released from probation earlier this year. That changed Wednesday when Judge Larson put him back on probation.

Mineral County Attorney Ellen Donohue is prosecuting the case.

"I think it could be as soon as I get the paperwork done and the judge reads it. It could be this week," Donohue says.

Brockway remains free without bond. But why is a man accused of two separate cases of erratic and violent behavior not behind bars?

Donahue requested a $100,000 bond in the case when Brockway was originally charged, but Justice Court Judge Dale Magone said he could be released without posting bail.

"Our argument was based on safety," Donohue says, "but the court felt with the assurances they were provided in terms of a GPS monitor, that [Brockway] is now staying with his parents, he’s effectively under house arrest, he can only go to and from work, to and from court, to his VA appointments, to see his attorney. The court felt that was enough to alleviate some of the safety concerns the state conveyed. "

Does that mean Donahue’s comfortable with the decision?

"No (laughter). But I wouldn’t ask for such a high bond if I didn’t feel like he was a safety risk. You don’t do that for show, and bond doesn’t guarantee they’re going to behave. If he had posted the 10% —  $10,000 — he’d be out anyway. We also have to remember that Mr. Brockway is not guilty right now. His innocence remains intact. He is not guilty until he’s guilty."

Brockway’s attorney, Lance Jasper could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but has told the Missoulian his client has a traumatic brain injury from a car crash and believes he was doing what President Donald Trump wanted him to do. That has put a political and social spin on the case.

At least 16 uniformed and armed law enforcement officers attended Wednesday’s arraignment. It appears they weren’t there to protect courthouse officials from Brockway as much as they were to protect everyone from furious members of the public.

Reserve County Deputy and former Mineral County Sheriff Earnest Ornelas says angry, threatening letters targeting local officials poured in from around the country.

"Some of them were very obscene. Some of the phone calls I won’t even mention because they were just so obscene. They made a lot of disparaging remarks about Mineral County and the town of Superior. Of course Justice Court judge decided not to make any kind of a statement to the press, so there were a lot of people who had misconceptions about what was actually occurring."

Mineral County Attorney Donohue says she fielded plenty of gracious and eloquent calls and letters from people expressing their concerns about the case, but adds others chose instead to bully, insult and threaten.

"You have to think, 'the irony.' You’re so concerned about a young boy being assaulted – and you should be – yet you then send emails to the defense counsel, the court, the state, threatening violence or calling us names or saying we don’t know how to do the job that’s before us. That was really disheartening. The irony isn’t lost on me."

There were no disruptions at Wednesday’s seven minute court hearing.

Curt Brockway’s next court hearing is slated for October 23.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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