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Courtney Reep stands outside the Missoula County Courthouse on Wednesday afternoon shortly after entering a not guilty plea on charges of misdemeanor criminal trespass after being arrested with four others early Sunday morning.

A University of Montana student who was jailed with three Griz football players and another student early Sunday was the designated driver and had just arrived at the Pattee Canyon Drive home to pick up her friends.

Moments later, all five were arrested by police and booked on felony burglary charges. 

Courtney Reep and her attorneys, Lance Jasper and Eric Henkel, want the criminal charge dropped against the 22-year-old woman.

"For a city that sees as many DUIs and drunk-driving accidents as we do, and for a city that advocates for sober driving, I think I am being singled out and punished for that," Reep told the Missoulian on Wednesday. "It doesn't make any sense."

Reep, whose father Rick is a prominent litigator and Jasper's partner, was the only defendant to plead not guilty to a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge Wednesday afternoon in Missoula Justice Court.

She told the Missoulian that she served as a designated driver on Halloween night, and dropped off her friends Kendrick Van Ackeren and Joseph Counts, both football players, as well as Maclain Tomlinson, at a party in Pattee Canyon around 11:30 p.m.

She lingered at the party for about 10 minutes and then went home to sleep.

A detailed narrative provided by her attorney − and backed by time-stamped text messages and phone calls − shows Reep had volunteered to pick up her friends at 2:19 a.m. They were eager to get to "coopers" and had been drinking at the Pattee Canyon party. 

As she drove across town from her home in Grant Creek, she received a text message from Counts saying they were walking down from the party through the Pattee Canyon neighborhood toward Higgins Avenue.

He then sent her a map pointing out where they were: 200 Pattee Canyon Drive. 

"They honestly thought it was abandoned," she said. "They went in there like anyone else would."

Unbeknownst to Reep, when she arrived at 2:52 a.m., the homeowners had called police a mere minute before. She texted Counts that she was waiting for them in the car outside. 

Jasper explained that after she arrived, Counts walked out to the car and asked her to help him wrangle up their drunken friends. He said when she entered, she thought maybe the house was "coopers," referenced earlier in text messages. 

"The homeowner said it best. ... I'm pretty sure Courtney had no idea what she was picking them up from," Henkel said.

"Whether it was wrong place, wrong time for them, I don't know," he added. "But we know it was the wrong place, wrong time for Courtney." 

***

Reep, dressed in pajamas and not in costume, was handcuffed and arrested, despite protestations on her behalf by the four men, who told police that she was the designated driver who had just arrived to pick them up.

"(The officer said) my first mistake was entering this house and told me to turn around and he put handcuffs on me," she said. "I was crying and shaking."

She said her explanation was ignored by the police, and 45 minutes after arriving at the residence, she was booked into the Missoula County jail. The men who were arrested with her were booked hours later. Van Ackeren was booked at 5:19 a.m., Counts at 5:22 a.m., John Schmaing at 5:47 a.m., and Tomlinson at 6:18 a.m. 

She was bailed out hours later on a $50,000 bond, posting a non-refundable $5,000.

Jasper said the experience with police and at the jail has traumatized the University of Montana senior, who has a 3.5 GPA and plans on being a nurse. He said he is curious about why she is being charged with the same crime as her friends, who she was picking up.

"I certainly can understand the thought process, and I think that it is a difference between her conduct and that of the other four," Deputy County Attorney Jason Marks said in response. "And I think that doesn't change the fact that she was trespassing."

He also noted the difference of conduct could affect "the way the case is disposed of," but wouldn't comment on what an appropriate resolution in the case would be. 

Jasper said he would deal with the criminal allegations against Reep before considering whether to file a civil suit. He also noted that he wants to reach out to the residents of the home, who were also traumatized by the event. 

"Her heart goes out to the family for what they had experienced," Jasper said. "She is regretful and wished that it didn't occur. She would never do anything to cause a family to be scared. She thought she was doing the right thing. And she was."

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