UPDATE: Domestic Violence Advocate Who Shot Ex-Husband Says He Had Attempted to Rape Her

Rachel Bellesen killed Jacob Glace on Oct. 8 in Sanders County; Glace had long history of abuse, including conviction for assaulting Bellesen

By Andy Viano

Update (Oct. 27, 4 p.m.): A Sanders County judge reduced Rachel Bellesen’s bail to $20,000 at a hearing Tuesday, paving the way for her release while she awaits trial on a charge of deliberate homicide for shooting her abusive ex-husband.

Lance Jasper, Bellesen’s attorney, told the court that his client was not a threat to her community as more than 100 supporters from around the state tuned into the hearing via Zoom teleconference, an effort supported by Bellesen’s employer, the Abbie Shelter, and partner domestic violence organizations throughout the state. Bellesen has been held on $200,000 bail at the Sanders County Jail since Oct. 8 when she admitted shooting her ex-husband, Jacob Glace, after she says he tried to rape her. Jasper said he expected his client to post bond as soon as possible and be released no later than Wednesday.

“Utter relief,” Jasper said of Bellesen’s reaction to the bail reduction. “She’s been so worried about her children. They’ve lost their dad and not being able to be there to help through this difficult time, it was killing her.”

Read the original story below.


Original story (Oct. 27, 11 a.m.): Three days after Rachel Hansen’s 21st birthday in July 2004, deputies from the Chelan County (Washington) Sheriff’s Office came to the apartment where she had been staying with friends. Neighbors had called 911 after they saw a man drag a woman out of the building by her hair and throw her to the ground in the parking lot. At the scene, deputies found Hansen with numerous injuries and a tuft of hair missing from her head. The door to the apartment had been smashed down. Outside, her 28-year-old husband, Jacob Angelo Glace, was sitting in a pickup proclaiming his innocence.

Hansen and Glace had been married for two years, had two young children, and their relationship was already in its final days. Hansen told investigators the pair had recently separated after years of verbal, mental and physical abuse by her husband, and that Glace had showed up “extremely intoxicated” around 1:30 a.m., banging on the door, calling her names and telling her “she was a worthless person.” Glace was convicted of domestic violence assault.

Sixteen years later, Hansen — now Rachel Bellesen — deals indirectly with people like Glace all the time. She is the shelter coordinator at the Abbie Shelter, a do-it-all handywoman, counselor and advocate who has worked for the domestic violence advocacy nonprofit since 2017. She is happily married and lives in Lakeside.

Then on Thursday, Oct. 8, she met Glace near his home in Sanders County, where she said he tried to rape her, and she shot him to death.

Almost three weeks later, Bellesen remains in jail, charged with deliberate homicide and held on $200,000 bail, and advocates like Abbie Shelter Executive Director Hilary Shaw are dismayed that a woman who has dedicated herself to helping victims of domestic violence, and who had been one herself, was now “on the receiving end of the very injustice we work so hard to prevent and oppose in our community.”

“Rachel just endured an intense trauma and is now facing re-traumatization from the justice system, and without the care she deserves to get as a survivor,” Shaw said. “She’s sitting in jail.”

The events of the night of Oct. 8 are largely not in question. Lance Jasper, Bellesen’s attorney, said his client was coerced to meet her ex-husband after Glace “threatened to harm one of (their) children.” Hours later, just before 8 p.m., Bellesen drove to a convenience store in Hot Springs and twice called 911, telling dispatchers she had shot Glace after he tried to rape her. When law enforcement arrived, she turned over her gun and helped locate Glace’s body at a location known as Orchard’s Fishing Hole in the town of Paradise. Glace had been shot five times.

At the scene, Bellesen told officers she had been raped and, according to court documents, later told nurses at Clark Fork Valley Hospital that Glace had “attempted to rape her.” At the hospital, a detective collected Bellesen’s clothes and “took the appropriate pictures to document her injuries.” A short while later, she was arrested.

“When I read that, it seems pretty obvious that there was an attempted rape, which qualifies as a sexual assault, but that the rape wasn’t completed,” Shaw said. “And everything we know about the body’s response to that kind of threat or trauma … it’s a very typical experience for people who are being sexually assaulted to fear for their lives.”

Jasper, Bellesen’s attorney, remains dumbfounded that she is jailed on a high bond — albeit one that was lowered from $500,000 — and that she was even charged in the first place. The court filing offers no motive for the shooting other than the attempted rape and confirms that Bellesen was injured, although it does not specify what those injuries were. Sanders County Attorney Naomi Leisz did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

“What I understand is there was significant bruising, scratches, her shirt had been ripped, her bra had been ripped, and her pants zipper had been broken,” Jasper said.

Jasper pointed to Glace’s criminal past, including a conviction for assaulting Bellesen in Washington in 2004. Just this year, Glace had been charged with partner or family member assault (PFMA) twice in the months before he was killed. Leisz charged Glace in Sanders County District Court in April, alleging he smashed a chair, broke through a door and “smacked” a woman while verbally assaulting her. A month later, while out on bond, Glace was arrested in neighboring Mineral County and again charged with PFMA after he berated a different woman in a hotel room to the point where “she feared for her safety,” and attempted to take the phone from her when she called 911.

Mineral County’s jail has been closed for the better part of two years and Sheriff Mike Toth said arrestees are transported to nearby facilities, frequently in Sanders County, although he was unfamiliar with Glace’s case because he only took office in August. Glace’s bond in Sanders County was not revoked after his May arrest, according to court records, and it is unclear if he was incarcerated after being charged in Mineral County.

Bellesen’s next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 27. If she is convicted of deliberate homicide, she could face up to 100 years in prison.

Bellesen’s friends have started a GoFundMe page to raise money for her defense and had collected more than $5,000 as of Oct. 26. The fundraiser can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/rachel-bellesen-defense-fund.

andy@flatheadbeacon.com

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