A man convicted of plastering “Rape Nation” stickers and graffiti around Missoula as the University of Montana’s rape scandal unfolded in 2012 had a portion of his sentence overturned by the Montana Supreme Court this month.
That era of UM’s history produced dramatic court battles, a few of which still linger six years later. In February, former Griz player Beau Donaldson avoided Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst’s attempt to send him back to prison. In March, a judge finally ordered the release of former Griz quarterback Jordan Johnson’s conduct records to Missoula author Jon Krakauer.
Of all the legal cases that stemmed from the era, Todd Jordan’s would seem the least likely to drag out. Jordan was arrested in September 2012 after Missoula police publicized surveillance video of a man suspected of tagging the Northside pedestrian bridge with the message that was becoming ubiquitous in Missoula. Indy columnist Dan Brooks wrote at the time that “Rape Nation” stickers were attached to “pretty much every flat surface in town.” The vandalism mocked the “Griz Nation” nickname that UM football fans use to describe themselves. It was sealed with the likeness of a Griz paw print — a maroon letter of sorts, signifying the city’s shame.
Jordan was slapped with two charges of criminal mischief (one for defacing public property and one for defacing private property), a count of conspiracy (later dropped), and a $2,500 bond. UM also threatened to sue for trademark infringement. It was a surprisingly aggressive response by a city and a university under scrutiny for treading lightly on sexual assault, Brooks opined.
Jordan took the misdemeanor charges to jury trial in Missoula Municipal Court, where he was convicted, two years after his arrest. His two six-month, $500-fine sentences were suspended, but he was ordered to pay $375 in restitution and complete 566 hours of community service.
Jordan never paid or completed his community service, so in November 2015, city attorneys petitioned to revoke his suspended sentence. He then faced 40 days in jail and 100 hours of community service.
The problem, Jordan argued to the Supreme Court, and the city admitted, was that his first six-month sentence had already expired by the time the city tried to revoke it. The error let Jordan off the hook for 30 of the 40 days of his revised jail sentence.
He may get more relief still. The Supreme Court remanded the case back to Municipal Court and ordered the judge to clarify whether Jordan’s community service sentence was applied to his first or second count of criminal mischief. Jordan’s public defender argues that it applies to the first count, for defacement of public property, as recompense for the volunteer hours required to scrub the city of his message. If the judge agrees, then the community service requirement becomes void, too.