Ripley pleads guilty after accepting deal

| August 7, 2020 8:05 AM

A local man accused of assaulting a woman during a June 12 gathering at a Libby trailer park pleaded guilty to felony partner or family member assault, third or subsequent offense, after striking a deal with prosecutors.

In return, prosecutors dropped an obstructing a peace officer charge levied against Jeremy L. Ripley, 36. He entered his guilty plea in Lincoln County District Court last month.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Ripley in June after receiving a report of a man “aggressively grabbing” a woman during a get-together near the Kootenai River. In an affidavit, Deputy Steven Short said a witness told him the group had gathered to take photos for an upcoming gender reveal for an expectant baby.

During the photo shoot, Ripley, who was dating one of the women involved, came over and allegedly began acting aggressively.

The witness told Short that the victim had a bag of belongings and planned to stay with her.

She also told Short that Ripley blocked the victim’s movement, grabbed her and held on as she tried to break free. When the victim could not, she eventually left with Ripley.

Law enforcement officers attempted to make contact with Ripley and the victim at their camper, but the pair refused to come out. The door was locked, Short recalled. When he asked the residents to come to the door, he heard Ripley refuse.

The two went back-and-forth, according to the affidavit, and Short threatened to force his way into the camper. While Ripley argued with the deputies, the victim opened the door and attempted to step out.

But Ripley allegedly grabbed her by the shoulder and pulled her back inside, court documents said. Deputy Brent Faulkner joined Short in warning Ripley against touching the victim.

While they were trying to convince the victim to leave the camper, the deputies received another call at a local eatery. Faulkner told Ripley that “now you’re just kind of totally obstructing us,” court documents said.

Ripley responded by telling the deputies they had no warrant, according to Short’s account. He asked for their names and badge numbers.

“OK, you’re going to jail. You are under arrest,” Short recalled telling Ripley.

Ripley struggled, but Short brought him to the ground and handcuffed him, court documents said.

During the walk to Short’s patrol car, Ripley allegedly denied hitting the victim or otherwise fighting with her. He accused the victim of hitting him. He said he only defended himself.

Ripley claimed to have video evidence. Short told him to share it with his defense attorney, court documents said.

Ripley then told Short to look at his chest, pointing at scratches that he said came from the victim attacking him. In the affidavit, Short described the marks as “consistent with someone trying to get away from a person [preventing] them from moving.”

Ripley also claimed to have suffered bite marks on his arms.

After dropping Ripley off at the Lincoln County Detention Center, Short went back to the scene. Multiple witnesses recounted the fight between Ripley and the victim. They described Ripley as threatening, aggressive and yelling throughout the incident. The accounts agreed in describing Ripley, at one point, as grabbing the victim and forcefully moving her.

A check of Ripley’s criminal history revealed a partner or family member assault in Illinois in 2017 and another in Libby from February, Short wrote.

Prosecutors recommend that Ripley serve a suspended, three-year sentence and receive credit for time served. Under the terms of the deal, he also would be responsible for paying a $500 fine.