2015 Aug 28: Rape charges dropped against former Butte High exchange student

Further investigation, victim’s family’s desire for privacy lead to rape charges being dropped

August 28, 2015 10:15 pm | Kathleen J. Bryan kathleen.bryan@mtstandard.com

Further investigation and the victim’s family’s desire for closure contributed to charges being dismissed against a 19-year-old Belgian man accused of sexual assault, the Jefferson County attorney said Friday.

Still, Laurent Dhondt, a former Butte High foreign exchange student, must comply with the terms of an agreement reached in Boulder district court on Tuesday, Mathew Johnson said.

In the deferred prosecution agreement filed Tuesday, Dhondt is required to “conduct himself as a law-abiding individual and will not commit any criminal offense” for a period of one year, Johnson said.

“Technically the charges are dismissed; however, the defendant must still abide by the terms” of the agreement, he said.

Johnson said Dhondt was formally charged based on investigative reports from law enforcement officers, adding that the “charges were necessary” at the time. Further investigation, coupled with the victim’s family and her desire for privacy, led to an agreement between the county attorney’s office, Dhondt and his attorney, he said.

“Part of the nature of why there is an agreement in this case is because the victim’s family is quite sensitive over this matter and wishes to have privacy and closure. And I believe this resolution at least provides closure as long as the defendant abides by the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement,” Johnson said.

Dhondt will return to Belgium to finish school Sept. 5, his attorney Herman “Chuck” Watson III of Bozeman, said Wednesday.

Dhondt was charged in July with sexual intercourse without consent, a felony, after a 17-year-old girl reported the alleged assault took place at the Headwaters Country Jam near Three Forks on June 26.

As part of the agreement, Dhondt underwent a psychosexual evaluation that came back as normal, Watson said.

Dhondt also agreed to pay restitution to the 17-year-old victim for any medical or counseling expenses and to provide a written apology to be forwarded to her by the county attorney.


2015 July 07: Former Butte High exchange student from Belgium charged in sex assault

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