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New charge filed against Castleman after Supreme Court overturned child abuse conviction

The Ward County State’s Attorney’s Office filed a new Class C felony charge of possession of an electronic device against Brent Allen Castleman, 54, a week after the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that his child abuse conviction must be reversed.

His father, Vance Allen Castleman, 78, is charged with Class C felony delivery of an electronic device to an inmate, as a co-defendant.

The alleged offense dates back to April 16, 2021, but the charge was not filed with the court until Jan. 7, the day after the Supreme Court ruled that Castleman’s conviction must be reversed and his lawyer said he would be released from the State Penitentiary.

Ward County Assistant State’s Attorney Tiffany Sorgen filed a motion to quash the arrest warrant for both men on Jan. 10, which was granted on Jan. 11. Sorgen indicated in a court filing that prosecution will be taken over by the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office. No hearing has been scheduled. The cases are both still active on the North Dakota Courts site.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court, law enforcement officers were escorting Brent Castleman to a court hearing in the Ward County Courthouse on April 16, 2021. At the end of the hearing, he was given a sealed envelope, along with legal paperwork, by his attorney. When he was taken back to the jail, he was searched and it was discovered that the sealed envelope contained a flat, hard object that turned out to be a computer tablet. The item was seized and placed into evidence. Law enforcement searched Brent Castleman’s electronic communications from the jail and found text messages and phone calls from Brent Castleman to his father, Vance Castleman, asking Vance Castleman to charge the tablet, put it in an envelope, and deliver it to his attorney before the April 16 hearing. Brent Castleman reportedly wanted to review photographs on the tablet for a case. The case was not prosecuted at the time due to lack of evidence that a crime had been committed.

On Dec. 14, 2021, Brent Castleman reportedly wrote a letter asking for the tablet to be released and the charges were filed the following month.

Brent Castleman had been convicted of physically assaulting a woman in front of a young girl and causing the child to shake and cry. Northeast District Court Judge Michael Hurly sentenced Castleman in January 2021 to 10 years in prison, with five years suspended. Castleman was serving the sentence at the James River Correctional Facility in Jamestown. Brent Castleman appealed the conviction to the Supreme Court, which ruled on Jan. 6 that the incident does not qualify as child abuse because prosecutors had not proven that there was any lasting effect to the girl’s psychological, emotional, or mental health.

Castleman’s attorney, Kyle Craig, said after the ruling that the Ward County State’s Attorney’s Office has been “overzealous” and “hellbent on convicting (Castleman) no matter what lines were crossed.” Craig had claimed that Castleman had gone to trial five different times on 16 different charges and each time was acquitted or had the charges dismissed. Ward County State’s Attorney Roza Larson said in response that a jury had found Castleman guilty of child abuse and the conviction was overturned on a technicality. She expressed the hope that the Legislature will look at the laws regarding domestic violence during the next session so that “such trauma inflicted in the presence of children can be addressed appropriately.”

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