On October 8, 2020, Rachel Bellesen shot and killed her ex-husband Jacob Glace in a town called Paradise, Montana, then drove to Hot Springs and called 911, AP News reported based on court documents. Bellesen reported that she shot Glace in self-defense when he attacked her and attempted to sexually assault her, but her attorneys said law enforcement did not take her claim seriously and investigate the attempted rape.
According to Bellesen’s attorney, she had agreed to meet with Glace because he’d threatened to harm one of their children. She said they were involved in a dispute over the sexual orientation of their son and Bellesen said Glace was homophobic and had threatened to “beat the gayness out” of their son, Oxygen.com wrote.
Glace had a prior criminal history as an abuser, AP News wrote, with a conviction in Washington that came after he assaulted Bellesen in 2004. He also had been accused of partner family member assault on another victim on two separate occasions in the months before his death. The day after Glace’s shooting death, Bellesen was charged with deliberate homicide and spent three weeks in jail until her bond was lowered to $20,000 and she was released on bail.
Bellesen Was Permanently Cleared in a Hearing on May 25, 2021, With Her Charges Dropped With Prejudice
Montana Assistant Attorney General Chris McConnell was assigned as a special prosecutor to the case and said the evidence wasn’t sufficient to convict Bellesen, AP News reported. The state filed a motion to dismiss the charges without prejudice but that would mean that Bellesen could be charged with deliberate homicide at any time in the future but that was challenged by Bellesen’s attorneys.
The case went before a judge for a ruling and judge Amy Eddy ruled in favor of the defense, determining that the case should be dismissed with prejudice. After she was permanently cleared, Bellesen said, “When she said ‘dismissed with prejudice,’ just for a second I was like, ‘OK, and?’” AP News reported. “And then I realized that was it, that she was done talking, and it was surreal.”
Bellesen’s attorney Lance Jasper told Oxygen.com he never expected to be contesting a motion to dismiss charges in a deliberate homicide case but he said he knew the dismissal without prejudice was not enough for Bellesen, who would have had to live with the possibility of being charged again hanging over her head.
Bellesen Criticized the State for Its Handling of the Case, Which Did Not Treat Her as a Victim of Sexual Assault
Bellesen argued that the state tried to silence her with her arrest and charges in the same way as her ex-husband many years earlier. “Much like Jake tried so hard to do over the course of more than 20 years, the State of Montana again attempted to silence my voice,” she said, according to the Daily Beast. “At the very start they declared me a murderer, claimed I executed an innocent man in cold blood. They took my life, the lives of my loved ones, ripped it all apart with their horrible claims, and then tried to just walk away when they realized that they had no case.” She continued:
It was eerily similar to when an abuser attacks you—and then tries to serve a sad excuse of apology with a bouquet of flowers the next morning, expecting you to just take them in gratitude, say nothing, and go on about your day like nothing happened. No.
Bellesen’s employer, the domestic violence shelter run by director Hilary Shaw, issued a statement supporting the Abbie Shelter advocate, stating, “The charging documents themselves support that, on the day of the tragedy, Mr. Glace physically and sexually assaulted Rachel. Her shirt, bra, and pants were ripped, and Mr. Glace’s scratch marks were on Rachel’s chest. Had the assault continued, Rachel would have suffered (at a minimum) a completed rape by Mr. Glace.”
Shaw called on the public to reach out to the Office of Attorney General to push for Bellesen’s case to be dropped with prejudice, according to the Abbie Shelter website.