Update: Billings man seeking exoneration after victim recants

ROB ROGERS

Editor’s note: The Montana Innocence Project has clarified Jefferson-Dust has not yet been fully exonerated of the charges against him, but the case is moving forward. He was in fact exonerated of his parole violation and released from jail. 

A Billings man convicted of criminal endangerment after facing charges of sexually assaulting a child in 2015 could be exonerated. 

Joseph Jefferson-Dust was released from the Yellowstone County jail on Tuesday after being exonerated of a parole violation related to his original conviction. 

“We are awaiting the judge’s final disposition of the underlying criminal matter,” said Randi Mattox with the Montana Innocence Project. 

Jefferson-Dust was dating a woman in 2015 when a 9-year-old girl, related to the woman, accused Jefferson-Dust of inappropriately touching her. 

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Jefferson-Dust was charged with sexually assaulting the minor in Yellowstone County District Court. Investigators found no corroborating evidence and through the investigation Jefferson-Dust maintained his innocence, Mattox said.

“Fearful of losing at trial and facing 100 years in prison, Joe pleaded no contest to criminal endangerment,” Mattox said. “Joe has no criminal history.”

In 2017, he was sentenced to 10 years probation, all suspended. In the years that

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