Man Sentenced for Making Racist Calls to Church

( – A Montana man is now serving an 18-month term in federal prison for orchestrating a 19-month campaign of hatred and racial harassment against two members of a church in Billings. The judge overseeing the case also mandated that he pay $617 in restitution to his victims.

According to a statement from the District of Montana, 41-year-old Joshua Leon Hiestand approached the church to ask for assistance with finding a job and financial aid sometime in November 2020. A woman identified only as Jane Doe in the memo, who was working at the church at the time, reportedly empathized with his plight. She offered to help by giving him a gift card, which he accepted.

At first glance, the exchange appeared to be nothing more than a wholesome case of a good Samaritan stepping in to help someone in need. But several days later, Hiestand began obsessively calling the Billings church to leave messages for both it and the woman. Rather than express his gratitude, he unleashed a torrent of racial slurs and harassing threats.

Hiestand, who is caucasian, reportedly said that he would contribute more to the church if it agreed to stop employing African-American workers. He also allegedly told the woman who originally came to his aid that nobody wanted her to work there.

Jane Doe reached out to local authorities, who managed to track Hiestand down a short time later via the telephone number he called from. The man apologized for his behavior and agreed to cease contact with the church.

But Hiestand failed to keep that promise. By August of 2021, he had already started calling the church and leaving harassing voicemails all over again. He continued to do so right up until he was arrested and remanded to police custody at Yellowstone County jail in November of 2022.

Hiestand’s lawyer, Gillian Gosch, initially asked for time served for her client, citing his longstanding history of mental health struggles and substance use disorder. It wasn’t immediately clear if the courts intended to approve this request or not. The Bureau of Prisons will first need to review the details of the case before it can make a decision.

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