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Red Lodge Senator Denies Domestic Abuse Charges
Priest pleaded not guilty in District Court Thursday
RED LODGE — State Sen. Jason Priest has denied charges that he, shoved his estranged wife during an argument, broke her boyfriend's rib, and threw his own 4-year-old daughter.

Priest, 45, pleaded not guilty in District Court on Thursday to partner or family member assault, felony assault, misdemeanor assault and resisting arrest, The Billings Gazette reported. District Judge Blair Jones continued Priest's bond at $1,500. If convicted on the felony count, Priest could face up to five years in prison.

Charging documents say the boyfriend called police on Feb. 1 asking for help while he and Priest's wife picked up her children at Priest's house in Red Lodge.

Court records say the girl called her mother, crying, and saying that Priest had been swearing at her.

Officer Matt Grieshop said when he arrived Priest and his wife were involved in a heated argument on the porch. The officer knew the Priests were going through a contentious divorce, court records said.

The woman said Priest had repeatedly pushed the 4-year-old girl back into the house, once grabbing her "like a sack of potatoes" and throwing her back into the house. Prosecutors say Priest grabbed his wife's arm and tried to push her down the stairs and then tackled her boyfriend and punched him, causing him to suffer cuts and a broken rib.

The officer said Priest appeared to be in a "blind rage," ignored his commands to stop, and said he had to fight with Priest to handcuff him.

The 4-year-old girl later told an investigator that "dad throwed me" while two other children, ages 7 and 9, told investigators that their dad threw their youngest sister back into the house.

Priest, a Republican, was elected in 2010. He is chairman of the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee.

RELATED: Felony Assault Charge Filed Against Red Lodge State Senator
 
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