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Glasgow family sues DPHHS over alleged wrongdoing

Todd and Krista Kolstad
Posted at 10:29 AM, Jun 12, 2024

GLASGOW — Todd and Krista Kolstad of Glasgow posted a YouTube video in January highlighting the events leading up to the state of Montana's involvement with their family. Following the release of the video, MTN met with the Kolstad family at their home. Since that meeting, MTN has investigated the family's claims their parental rights were violated (part one; part two, part three).

Since MTN last met with Todd and Krista, a lot has happened:

Glasgow family sues DPHHS over alleged wrongdoing

"As far as how we’re doing, we’ve been run out of our house and run out of our town," explained Krista Cummins-Kolstad.

Life as they once knew it will never be the same.

“It's not safe for us to be in Glasgow with the corruption there.” She added.

Todd and Krista Kolstad have spent over a year fighting to save their family. MTN was the first outlet to meet with the Kolstad's in January and previously released a 3-part series sharing their experiences with Child and Family Services. Since those stories were released this Spring, the Kolstad family is continuing their fight against the state of Montana and what they feel is wrongdoing against them.

“What we've done is we filed in federal court against the two workers that are from CPS, Cindy Baillargeon and Crystal Whitmore."

In 2023, Child and Family Services, a division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services inserted itself into the lives of the Kolstad's. A suspected suicide attempt from the Kolstad's biological female child lead to the state's involvement.

DOCUMENTS

In early 2024, the state of Montana withdrew from the Kolstad's child welfare case and order their child to Canada to live with their birthmother, who hasn't been in the picture for nearly a decade. The deciding factor was the Kolstad's were unfit for a safe reunification with their child who wished to transition to a male.
Represented in a federal suit against the Child Protection Specialists on their case, Bozeman Attorney Matthew Monforton drew interest from a YouTube video posted by Todd and Krista telling their story in January. Click here for a re-posted copy of the video.

"Any time a judge imposes an illegal gag order on a case, that's always a red flag something bad is going on that the judiciary doesn't want the public to know about," explained Monforton.

Valley County District Court issued a gag order on the Kolstad's when they began to speak publicly about their case. The Kolstad's religious and moral beliefs lead to the decision to deny their child the choice to identify as a male and the traditional male pronouns.

"You don't have the right to tell a parent that they can’t tell their child no. All we did was say, 'No, you're not going to be a boy. No, we're not going to go down this road with you.'” Cummins-Kolstad said.

The court decided the parents choice to speak publicly would bring negative attention to the child and they would potentially be bullied or exiled in the community of Glasgow. In MTN's investigation the Kolstad's refused a treatment plan which involved family and marriage counseling to encourage a safe return of their child.

The Kolstad refused to follow the instructions of the treatment plan stating, "If you tell me you’re a unicorn, Ryan. That’s fine. You’re an adult, but there is nothing that says I have to agree and look at you like a unicorn. It goes against our values, and we don’t need that reevaluated and we won’t do it."

The federal suit filed against the individual Child Protection Specialist's of DPHHS outlines the timeline of events leading up the state's involvement with the family. The document is in congruence with what MTN found in its investigation and documents provided by the family. Monforton says DPHHS did not receive a proper court order to remove the Kolstad child from their parents custody while admitted at Francis Mahon Deaconess Hospital or adequately prove the child was in imminent danger to them self.

"The hospital records make clear that at the time the Kolstad’s daughter was seized by CPS, the Kolstad’s daughter was hospitalized in the Glasgow hospital. She had 24-hour observation." Monforton said. "A nurse was present in her room 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the hospital had made clear that they would continue that process until a bed opened in Billings Clinic, which is what the parents and CPS in Glasgow Hospital had all agreed upon."

The Kolstad's have argued from day one they feel parents should have the right to parent their children as they see fit.

Monforton added, "The United States Constitution clearly states that parents have a right to raise their child as they see fit. And those rights cannot be interfered with by the government without due process.”

As the Kolstad's continue life without their child, they continue to push back against what they feel is government overreach. The suit in federal court lead to a Cease and Desist letter issued to Lt. Governor Kristen Juras. The letter outlines concern of Governor Greg Gianforte addressing the Kolstad case on his X account, stating the Lt. Governor looked into the case and found no wrongdoing.

“That was illegal in contrary to what the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor were saying about it being legal. That is bogus" Todd Kolstad stated. "There was no legal grounds. It was a completely an illegal kidnapping of our daughter and taking her across state lines.”

Monforton, the Kolstad's legal counsel in the federal lawsuit, outlined in the letter Lt. Governor Juras spoke ill on the Kolstad family at events across the state while Todd and Krista were silenced under a gag order.

"It was grossly unfair and misconduct by the Governor and the lieutenant Governor to address this case on social media, while at the same time the Kolstad’s were under the threat of a contempt hearing and jail time. If they talked about this case, it's one of the one of the many incredibly unfair aspects of this case.”

As the Kolstad's fight for parental rights is months away from trial, there is not slowing down for the two. The couple hope this effort will help push Montana lawmakers to make reforms to the child welfare system.

***

Previously reported by MTN, the Kolstad family filed a lawsuit against the Glasgow Police Department for a 2021 incident.

Todd Kolstad, the plaintiff in the suit, filed against the City of Glasgow, Robert Weber, Tyler Edwards, and Joshua Nolan for misconduct while in uniform for the Glasgow Police Department. The lawsuit came about after Todd was arrested for allegedly resisting arrest in 2021. The result of the altercation with police, led to an injury in his brain. Charges were filed against Kolstad that night and remained until May 31, 2024 when the Honorable Yvonne Laird signed off on an Order to Dismiss without prejudice to vacate the charges filed on Kolstad.

The Kolstad's lawsuit against the defendants is still in motion. A copy of the suit was provided to MTN in February, it outlines Mr. Kolstad was under the influence of alcohol. Throughout the document it discusses his actions towards police officers and brutal force laid upon him. Throughout the Kolstad's battle with Child and Family Services, the family reports their child frequently told lies and rarely acted out. The police were called in 2021 because the Kolstad child claimed their parents were fighting and the child was "scared." Later in 2023, the child admitted to ingesting an undisclosed amount of toilet bowl cleaner and over the counter medication in a suicide attempt leading to police involvement and CFS. The child frequently told case works for DPHHS their dad frequently drank alcohol and their parents often fought. There is no evidence with these charges dropped that Mr. Kolstad was under the influence of alcohol the night of his 2021 altercation with police or a fight broke out in the home.

MTN reached out the Glasgow Police Department and did not receive a response.

MTN contacted the Department of Justice regarding the timely nature of it dropping charges against Kolstad. A spokesperson for the DOJ told MTN the charges were dropped based on new evidence based on subsequent actions gathered by a witness in the investigation and were not able to move forward. The Kolstad family CFS case and the charges against Todd Kolstad in 2021, have no correlation with each other.

***

As MTN continues to follow the Kolstad's fight for parental rights, Todd wanted to express that his family was often seen as normal before this. The events which took place in 2021 and in 2023 did not happen frequently. He was wonders why something like this could happen to his family. Their hope is to help other families avoid being put in the same situation as them.

NOTE: Krista Cummins-Kolstad is the step mother of the child that was removed from their custody. The biological mother resides in Canada. MTN previously reached out the biological mother, she requested we not use her name and declined to participate due to a court issued gag order Monforton and the Kolstad's deem fake.

MTN reached out to Governor Greg Gianforte's Office and a spokesperson for him told us he doesn't comment on pending litigation and referred us back to his office's initial statement:

"While the State of Montana is limited in disclosing the specifics of cases involving minor children in its care due to their sensitive nature, broadly speaking, the state does not remove minors from homes to provide gender transition services or use taxpayer funds to pay for those services while a minor is in the custody of the state. As outlined in its statement of purpose, Child Protective Services protects children who have been or are at substantial risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment. Furthermore, the Governor has asked his Department of Public Health and Human Services to codify a formal policy and/or develop a regulation to clarify and ensure the definition of abuse or neglect does not include a parent’s right to refuse to provide gender transition services to his or her minor child."

MTN also reached out to Lt. Governor Kristen Juras and did not receive a response. Montana DPHHS also declined to comment on pending litigation.

On Wednesday, Monforton's office contacted MTN to release it's attempting to contact defendant Crystal Whitmore to serve her papers. The Kolstad's counsel explained they have yet to contact Whitmore, MTN called the Valley County field office of DPHHS and received a busy tone as the phone lines were down. MTN was notified by Whitmore following the publication of this story she was on leave visiting her family.

We will continue to follow this story as more information becomes available.