A 65-year-old Flathead County man convicted of sexually assaulting a young boy in the 1990s was sentenced to prison on Aug. 9, a year after he threatened to enact “revenge” on the people who put him behind bars two decades ago.
A jury convicted Dale Michael Hanson in April of felony intimidation and failure to register as a sex offender. Flathead County District Court Judge Heidi Ulbricht sentenced Hanson to two concurrent 40-year sentences to the Montana State Prison with a 30-year parole restriction. Hanson would be 96 years old before he is eligible for release.
Hanson has maintained his innocence for more than two decades and claims the “crooked and corrupt Nazi bastards” of Flathead County’s justice system wrongly convicted him.
Hanson was convicted in 1995 of sexual assault and deviant sexual conduct. According to court documents and testimony at that original trial, Hanson forced his girlfriend’s young son to touch his genitals and perform oral sex on him in 1991 and 1992. A jury found Hanson guilty in March 1995 and four months later he was sentenced to 20 years in the Montana State Prison with 10 years suspended.
In the years since the conviction, Hanson has appealed his case on multiple occasions, arguing that evidence was suppressed and prosecutors interfered with witnesses during his original trial. Despite the help of the Montana Innocence Project, multiple courts have maintained that Hanson is guilty.
Four years after his release in 2005, local law enforcement discovered that Hanson, who had moved back to Flathead County, had never registered as a sexual offender. In September 2009, Deputy Flathead County Attorney Lori Adams filed felony charges of failure to register as a sexual offender against Hanson.
In August 2016, Hanson sent a letter and a package of materials to the U.S. Marshals Service asking that they investigate his conviction. The letter included multiple threats to judges, attorneys and lawmen in Flathead County.
Over the course of the three-day trial that began April 24, prosecutors painted a picture of a man intent on exacting revenge on the people who put him behind bars. In the letter to federal agents, Hanson opened by writing “there are going to be a bunch of dead bodies if you do not intervene on my behalf.” He then listed the names of 18 judges, attorneys, and law enforcement officers involved in his 1995 trial.
Hanson’s defense attorney, Sean Hinchey, argued that his client was never going to act on his threats and that the “tough talk” was a “cry for help” spurred by anger that no one would help him clear his name.
Prior to his sentencing, Hanson testified about his frustrations with the legal system and how he still maintains his innocence. He said that if he were alive at the end of the prison sentence, he would still refuse to register as a sexual offender.
“I have had the last 23 years of my life stolen for something I never did,” he said.
Prosecutor Travis Ahner argued for a 40-year sentence with a 30-year parole restriction because he believes “Mr. Hanson’s rage will not subside” in that time. Hinchey did not give a formal recommended sentence but rather urged Judge Ulbricht to give a more lenient sentence so that “Mr. Hanson could live out the rest of his days a free man.”
After Ulbricht handed down her sentence, Hanson announced, “I will appeal all of this to a higher court.”