Over the objection of a county prosecutor, District Court Judge Karen Townsend on Tuesday released a 19-year-old who had just pleaded guilty to raping multiple teenage girls and exploiting others for nude photos.
Justin Robert Weider's release is in effect until he is sentenced in October.
Every other time Wieder has been out of jail since being charged with his first set of felonies in June 2016, he has been rearrested for either contacting his victims or raping them again.
On Monday, he pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual intercourse without consent — Montana’s law for rape — and another felony for sexual abuse of children as part of a plea agreement to resolve all of his outstanding Missoula criminal cases. The agreement calls for a 20-year sentence to the Department of Corrections with 15 of those years suspended.
“You understand that even though [the victim] may have agreed to this, because of her age this is sexual intercourse without consent,” Townsend said when Wieder entered a guilty plea to one of his rape charges.
Wieder was charged with raping a 15-year-old girl in June last year. Before Tuesday, he had been let out by the judge or posted bail and was released three times, each time being rearrested for either violating release conditions by contacting the girls or for having additional charges leveled against him.
Most recently he was arrested in late July for a new felony charge that included allegations he recorded sexual contact between himself and one of the girls.
Following his most recent arrest, two other Missoula judges had set "stacking" bails that totaled $400,000 to hold Wieder.
After Wieder entered his pleas Tuesday, his attorney asked Townsend to release him until the Oct. 10 sentencing hearing. Wieder’s father, who lives in Augusta, told Townsend he would watch his son to make sure he didn't violate his release conditions and would “drive him back and hand him over” if he did.
Over objections from prosecutor Jennifer Clark and a crime victim advocate who said the girls do not want Wieder out in the community, Townsend chose to release him until sentencing.
This is the second time Townsend has released Wieder to live with his father in Augusta. The previous time, Wieder left, came back to Missoula and was arrested again after contacting his victims.