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Stenehjem requests that Cobb complaint against him be dismissed

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BISMARCK — North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has asked the Department of Labor to dismiss a complaint made by white supremacist Craig Cobb.

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Cobb filed a complaint after Stenehjem said in a November radio interview that people like “Cobb and his supporters are not the kind of people wanted in North Dakota.”

Cobb, who has bought property in the small town of Leith with the intention of creating a white supremacist haven, alleged that he suffered unwelcome harassment on the basis of his religion and that Stenehjem’s comment was discrimination in a public service.

Stenehjem has asked for the complaint to be dismissed, stating that he has the right under the First Amendment to express his views and his expression does not constitute a denial of Cobb’s access to public services.

Cobb was scheduled to appear in court Monday on felony terrorizing charges, but the preliminary hearing has been rescheduled to Jan. 13 because Cobb needs an attorney. Three court-appointed attorneys have asked to withdraw from Cobb’s case.

Cobb and his supporter, Kynan Dutton, are being held without bond on the terrorizing charges for allegedly approaching residents with loaded firearms last month.

Also Monday, South Central Judicial District Judge Bruce Haskell heard testimony related to a restraining order filed by Dutton’s girlfriend, Deborah Henderson, against Leith website developer Gregory Bruce.

A temporary restraining order bars Bruce from having contact with her except through an attorney or from posting anything slanderous, harassing or threatening about her or her family on the www.leithnd.com website or any other Internet source.

Attorney Thomas Kelsch, who represented Bruce and also has been hired by the city of Leith, said he hopes the judge dismisses the order after reviewing the evidence, which includes a video of Henderson accompanying Dutton and Cobb while they carried guns through the streets of Leith last month.

“Everything he had on his website or Facebook page was true and he’s protected by freedom of speech and freedom of the press to put that information on there,” Kelsch said.

Haskell took the matter under advisement and indicated he’d have a decision soon, Kelsch said.

Henderson did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

Last week, Henderson told Forum News Service that Bruce has harassed her and made her fear for her family’s safety.

Supporters of Leith held a successful fundraiser over the weekend for the city’s legal defense fund, Bruce said. The total amount raised hadn’t been tallied yet, but Bruce said the PayPal account had $1,500 in contributions the day after the fundraiser.

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Amy Dalrymple

Amy Dalrymple is a Forum News Service reporter stationed in the Oil Patch. She can be reached at adalrymple@forumcomm.com or (701) 580-6890.

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