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Trial begins for Great Falls man accused of sexual assault

Posted: 12:22 PM, May 21, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-21 14:22:26-04

The trial for a Great Falls man started Monday after his original plea agreement was thrown out by the Montana Supreme Court.

Gary Hansen has been charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of obstructing a peace officer.

In 2017, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that Judge Dirk Sandefur illegally accepted a ‘no contest plea’ while overseeing the original 2015 sexual assault case.

In a plea agreement, the state sentenced Hansen to 60 years in the Montana State Prison for sexually assaulting an 8-year old.

During opening arguments Monday, the state said the victim in the case came forward in 2013 and told a school counselor Hansen had sexually abused her for years.

The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office then began an investigation and executed a search warrant on Hansen’s home in March of 2013. Several items were taken from the home.

Prosecutors said forensic evidence showed DNA, later determined to be Hansen’s, on one item of clothing.

A copy of a warrant was left at Hansen’s home stating he would be charged with sexual assault.

On March 26, a deputy found two people on Hansen’s property and Hansen ran, according to prosecutors.

In October of 2013, he was found in Wyoming where law enforcement chased him for over an hour. The State said he pulled a knife and was then tased and finally arrested.

During the defense’s opening arguments, they told the jury they must pay attention to the details.

They argued Hansen has maintained his innocence since 2013.

Defense attorneys also said the victim has changed her story many times.

They argued important details do not match the evidence and they cannot prove who owned the article of clothing with DNA on it.

The trial is expected to last 5-7 days.

Story by Margaret DeMarco, MTN News