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Cord Released After Plea Agreement To Assault

After the Montana Supreme Court announced a reversed ruling regarding the verdict of David Joseph Cord, a plea agreement was reached on a misdemeanor charge in district court on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Cord was sentenced in 2019 to 40 years in prison with 35 years suspended for the charge of felony sexual assault. The Supreme Court announced a reversed ruling in the case earlier this month.

The lack of a factual finding by the jury regarding the victim’s age was a key element in the Supreme Court’s decision. The ruling noted, “Importantly, while the State’s theory of the case may have been that H.B. did not consent or agree to Cord’s sexual contact — a misdemeanor — the State charged Cord and obtained a conviction under a felony without the jury being instructed on age disparity — an additional element of the offense ... the jury was never instructed that age disparity was an element of the offense. We conclude that the failure to instruct on an element of the offense was a plain or obvious error that affected Cord’s constitutional right to due process and trial by jury and that the error prejudicially affected the fundamental fairness or integrity of Cord’s trial. We exercise plain error review and reverse Cord’s conviction for sexual assault.”

On Wednesday, Cord made a plea of guilty to the misdemeanor charge of assault. He admitted to touching the victim’s breast and agreed that it was touching her in an insulting way.

Maximum penalties were six months in the county jail, a $500 fine or both.

District Judge David Cybulski released Cord because of Cord’s time already served in prison. He also wasn’t ordered to pay a fine because of credit for time served.

“I guess you’re done wearing green stripes as soon as we have the typed judgment,” Cybulski said.

The judge told Cord that it was his best interest to stay away from the victim and from Culbertson.

Roosevelt County Attorney Frank Piocos said he disagreed with the original verdict and the Supreme Court’s ruling. Piocos said he agreed to the plea agreement because he couldn’t retry the case for the felony charge and that a 15-year-old can consent to sexual contact but not sexual intercourse.

Piocos said he talked with the victim before moving forward with the plea agreement.

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