A former supervisor at an indoor dog park in Missoula will retain an assault charge on his criminal record after pleading no contest on Friday to allegations that he propositioned a woman working there by pushing her against a wall and picking her up.
Jason Overmier was accused by the employee of an assault on March 14, 2018 at Wagg'n Dog Park, until recently owned by his girlfriend, Rachele Clark.
Justice of the Peace Landee Holloway on Friday gave Overmier a six-month suspended sentence with conditions to not drink alcohol or contact the victim in the case.
"Mr. Overmier, it's important that people understand they keep their hands to themselves," Holloway told Overmier, who declined to make a statement to the court. "In an assault charge, there's a victim. … You physically invaded someone's personal space and put your hands on them."
The no contest plea was not an admission of guilt but essentially an acknowledgement that prosecutors would have likely secured a conviction at trial.
Overmier's public defender, Ted Fellman, had asked the judge for a deferred sentence, which would have been cleared from his criminal record had he complied with conditions imposed by Holloway.
But in asking for a suspended sentence, which would not wash off Overmier's record, Missoula Deputy County Attorney Mark Handelman contended that Jordyn Courter's allegations were not isolated. Courter gave the Missoulian permission to use her name in this story.
"As cases like these unravel, more and more come out and this is apparent that it's not some one-off where he made a mistake," Handelman said. "There should not be an opportunity for him to remove this from his record after today. It should be an accurate reflection of the crime he committed moving forward."
Courter told her story to the Missoulian last year, while multiple former employees described a culture of harassment and discrimination at Wagg'n Indoor Dog Park that led to criminal investigations, Human Rights Bureau complaints — two of which ended with voluntary resolution agreements and confidentiality stipulations — and Overmier's change-of-plea hearing on the assault charge Friday. Many former employees described Overmier's drinking as a catalyst to his alleged inappropriate behavior at Wagg'n. Two former employees said they carried pepper spray at work.
Handelman said Friday law enforcement's investigation "uncovered a culture of drinking" by Overmier at his workplace, as well as an arrest for obstructing a peace officer when he allegedly did not leave a bar after trying to get another patron there to fight with him.
Handelman asked Holloway to also order Overmier not to drink alcohol or go into bars and casinos during the suspended sentence. She obliged.
"This has gone on for too long," Courter said after the hearing. "They brushed so many things under the rug before. … I was determined to be the one who stopped it."
Clark, the former Wagg'n owner, unsuccessfully petitioned a judge to prohibit two women, including Courter, from speaking out about the allegations on social media, and actively challenged allegations on review sites like Yelp. Clark no longer owns the business, announcing earlier this month that a new owner was scheduled to take over the same day as Overmier's change-of-plea hearing.
Clark has previously told the Missoulian Overmier was no longer employed when the newspaper first heard of the allegations last November, and has asked the Missoulian not to call her again.
A manager at Wagg'n on Friday declined comment. She also said the new owners at Wagg'n wished to remain anonymous.
A Human Rights Bureau complaint against Wagg'n and Overmier by a former employee, Mary Davis, has not yet been resolved.