News and Press Releases

William Nelson Thurlow Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on September 22, 2011, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, WILLIAM NELSON THURLOW, a 68-year-old resident of Livingston, pled guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law. Sentencing has been set for January 5, 2012. He is currently released on special conditions.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara J. Elliott, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On March 22, 2011, THURLOW was employed by the State of Montana as an officer with the Department of Probation and Parole and assigned to supervise probationer S.B. While acting in his official capacity, THURLOW went to S.B.'s residence unannounced and by himself. THURLOW, while at the residence, forced his hand up S.B.'s shorts and penetrated S.B.'s vagina with his finger. THURLOW then grabbed S.B. again, forced his hand up her shirt touching her breast, and tried to force her in the bathroom of her apartment. S.B. managed to get away from THURLOW because her four-year old son was in the small apartment and spilled his milk when he saw the assault. After these events occurred, S.B. felt pain in her vagina and had trouble urinating for several days.

THURLOW admitted to this conduct to members of law enforcement.

Mr. Thurlow's crime strikes at the heart of the credibility of our criminal justice system. Ensuring the civil rights of our citizens is of the highest priority of the FBI and those who violate the public's trust can expect similar justice. The FBI would like to thank the Park County Sheriff's Office for their assistance in this joint investigation." Eric K. Barnhart,

Supervisory Senior Resident Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Protecting the rights of every citizen is of paramount importance to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice takes very seriously the abuse of authority by law enforcement personnel and will prosecute those who criminally violate the civil rights of others. Conduct like Thurlow admitted to today violates the trust citizens place in government authorities. Today's change of plea should demonstrate to the public that such actions will not be tolerated by the Department of Justice." United States Attorney Michael W. Cotter.

THURLOW faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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