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Published February 05, 2013, 10:35 AM

Defendant in Child Abuse Case Charged with Threatening Witness

A Thompson, N.D., man charged last fall with felony abuse and neglect of his children appeared Monday on a new charge accusing him of threatening to “hurt” a female witness in the child abuse/neglect case.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

A Thompson, N.D., man charged last fall with felony abuse and neglect of his children appeared Monday on a new charge accusing him of threatening to “hurt” a female witness in the child abuse/neglect case.

James Hume, 32, was charged in September in state district court with felony abuse or neglect of a child after Grand Forks County sheriff’s deputies said in August they found him and three young children — two of them his biological children — living in a dirty garage without running water, with dangerous chemicals in reach of the children.

The attached house at the site southwest of Thompson, where his parents lived and the children bathed, was filled with animals and animal waste, deputies said: 50 cats, five dogs and chickens, birds, rabbits, ducks, geese and a snake and urine and feces all over, according to deputies.

The charge was amended a month ago to three Class C felony counts — one for each of the three little girls, ages 5, 3 and 3 — each with a top sentence of five years in prison.

After several delays in court proceedings, Hume was set to be arraigned Feb. 19 on the child neglect or abuse charges.

But last week a new felony charge of terrorizing was brought against him.

Grand Forks prosecutors say one of the possible witnesses listed in the neglect/abuse case told police that Hume on Nov. 21 sent a text message to her sister.

According to an investigators’ affidavit, the text message to the woman’s sister read “your *&%%* sister is who called the cops on us! And she called my probation officer and said I was at big dees (meaning Big D’s, a bar). She is going to get hurt.”

The woman, who lives in Fargo, “felt very threatened by” the message, investigators said. In December she obtained a restraining order against Hume.

Both the woman and her sister are listed as possible witnesses by the prosecution in the child neglect/abuse case against Hume.

Last Thursday, prosecutors filed a felony terrorizing charge against Hume and issued an arrest warrant. The warrant was served Monday and Hume was in the Grand Forks County jail Monday.

State District Judge Karen Braaten set Hume’s bond on the new charges — he also was charged with driving with a suspended license — at $3,000 cash or surety and set his preliminary hearing for March 18.

Hume told Judge Braaten he now is living in Thompson in a rented home with his girlfriend and four children, including his two daughters.