WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court decided Tuesday the state of Montana cannot move forward on prosecuting a cold case involving the rape of an 8-year-old Billings girl in 1987.
The high court denied a request from Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, who had appealed a Montana Supreme Court unanimous decision last fall to drop charges against Ronald Dwight Tipton. Fox was hoping to overturn a 2003 Montana law that forbids filing rape charges after the statute of limitations has expired.
In 2014, following an arrest on unrelated charges in Meagher County, Tipton submitted a DNA sample, which matched evidence from the 1987 case.
The Yellowstone County Attorney’s office then filed charges of sexual intercourse without consent against Tipton. He appealed, and the Montana Supreme Court ordered those charges dropped, citing the statute of limitations.
By Montana law, the statute of limitation for sexual intercourse without consent with a minor expired in 2001, or five years after the victim turned 18.
Fox said he was disappointed in the court’s decision but thanked the victim for her bravery in coming forward to try and move the case ahead.
The girl was raped in her Billings home in 1987. Another man, Jimmy Bromgard, was convicted and served 15 years in prison for the crime, but he was released in 2002 after DNA evidence surfaced to exonerate him.
Reporting by Jon Stepanek for MTN News