Isaac Nolan Blackhorse

Blackhorse

Yellowstone County saw its first sexual intercourse without consent charge filed Monday after major changes to the state’s rape and sexual assault laws took effect Oct. 1.

Isaac Nolan Blackhorse, 30, appeared on a charge of sexual intercourse without consent in Yellowstone County Justice Court on Monday.

According to charges, Blackhorse raped a 30-year-old woman on Sept. 10. He was arrested on Saturday.

This year, lawmakers changed the definition of consent used in the state’s rape and sexual assault laws. Prosecutors now must prove that the perpetrator failed to get consent for sexual contact through words or overt actions. Under the old definition, prosecutors had to prove the victim was compelled to submit through the use of force. The new law also clarifies that current or previous dating relationships or manner of dress do not constitute consent.

The penalties for rape under the new consent definition are lighter than they were before the changes, at life imprisonment or no more than 20 years.

If prosecutors can prove physical force was used, as under the old definition, they can now charge aggravated sexual intercourse without consent, which is punishable by 10-100 years.

Blackhorse, the defendant, met up with the woman downtown and asked her to come with him, she told investigators. They had known each other for about a month.

The two went to the apartment of an acquaintance, where Blackhorse tried to get the woman to use meth, a witness said. When the witness told him not to force her, he and the woman went into a different room.

The witness said she heard the woman say, “no, don’t” but was afraid to intervene, she told investigators. Blackhorse later emerged from the room with blood on his shirt. The witness believed he was high on meth.

Judge Pro Tem Craig Martinson set bond at $100,000.

Lawmakers this year made other changes to Montana’s criminal laws that could help victims of sexual or domestic violence, including making strangulation of partners or family members a felony; increasing the statute of limitations for various sex crimes from 10 years to 20, in cases where the victim was a minor; and allowing for child sex abuse charges in grooming cases where no contact was made.

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Public safety reporter for the Billings Gazette.