‘The First Message Made Me Sick’: Shameless Man Who Sought Help from Montana Church Before Making Hateful Calls Harassing Its Black Employee Sentenced

A man who confessed to making numerous racially motivated harassing phone calls to a Black woman employed at a church in Billings, Montana, was sentenced to 18 months in prison last week.

Joshua Leon Hiestand, 41, will be subject to one year of supervised release after he serves his prison term, U.S. attorney Jesse Laslovich announced on Oct. 20.

In June, Hiestand pleaded guilty to the charges of making the harassing calls. U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters also ordered him to pay $617 in restitution.

Joshua Leon Hiestand (Photo: Yellowstone County)

Laslovich condemned Hiestand’s actions in a statement.

“When Hiestand, a white man, went to a Billings church looking for help, an elderly African American woman who worked there responded with kindness and assistance. In return and for nearly two years, Hiestand launched a barrage of harassing, hateful and racist calls and voicemails at her and the church. His racist conduct isn’t just abhorrent, it is illegal. We are better than this,” Laslovich said.

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The victim, identified as Jane Doe, described the distressing nature of Hiestand’s messages during a statement to the court that left her deeply shaken and anxious.

“The first message made me sick. I literally started shaking. What he said really frightened me. I get high anxiety when I listen to those messages,” Jane Doe said.

According to court documents and statements, in November 2020, Hiestand visited the church seeking work and financial help. Jane Doe gave him a gift card. However, a few days later, Hiestand left a voicemail for Jane Doe, using a racial slur and threatening to withhold further financial support if the church continued to employ Black people.

The next month, Hiestand made references to his “white friends” and reiterated that if the church did not hire African-Americans, he would contribute more to the church. 

His actions did not stop there. Hiestand left another voicemail stating, “Nobody wants you here.”

The woman reported the harassment to the Billings Police Department, and authorities identified Hiestand as the perpetrator. Hiestand initially apologized to law enforcement during a phone interview but continued his offensive behavior. 

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In August 2021, he left another voicemail in which he used racial slurs and stated that the “world is going to end because of your black a– race.”

Hiestand’s harassment persisted for the next 19 months, during which he also targeted Historically Black Colleges and Universities with similar threatening and racially motivated calls. The investigation determined that Hiestand had made these calls from outside of Montana.

Read the original story here.

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