In 2003, Kalispell businessman Dick Dasen was named a United Way “community hero” for his charitable aid. He has since been described ad nauseum as the city’s most respected businessman, the owner of City Service, a gasoline distributor, and the Outlaw Inn. Dasen served on the board of top Flathead businesses from Big Mountain to Semitool. He was seen as a pillar of hope for the down-and-out, whether they needed money or “Christian counseling.” But on Friday, May 20, a jury of Dasen’s peers concluded he was something else: Guilty. Dasen was found guilty of five felonies (sexual abuse of children, promotion of prostitution and three counts of prostitution) as well as a misdemeanor prostitution charge. He was also found innocent of sexual intercourse without consent, aggravated promotion of prostitution and five counts of prostitution. Even though he was cleared more often than he was found guilty, Dasen still faces up to 126 years in prison and fines of up to $71,000.
Flathead Deputy County Attorney Dan Guzynski says he thinks “without a doubt [Dasen attorney] George Best will appeal on his pre-trial change of venue and suppression of evidence” motions. Such an appeal would go directly to the Montana Supreme Court.
After Dasen files a pre-sentence report with the Department of Probation, Guzynski says, his office will recommend a sentencing option to Flathead County District Judge Stewart Stadler, but Guzynski won’t speculate on that recommendation.
Guzynski says the case put enormous strain on the Flathead County Attorney’s office, but that “There was no way we could simply dismiss Mr. Dasen’s case just because he had the money to fight it with this level of intensity.”
Local media coverage of the case has been substantial, though it’s surprising that the trial didn’t clog the airwaves of Fox News and CNN like that stupid runaway bride incident, especially given that the case involved teenagers having sex for money to buy methamphetamine. Talk about a plot line to send even the most jaded of scandalmongers into euphoria!
Throughout the trial, Dasen claimed he was the victim.
Dasen’s attorney, Best, didn’t return a message from the Independent, but we did track down an analysis from Dr. Martin H. Williams, a California-based clinical and forensic psychologist.
With the caveat that he’d have to speak to Dasen personally to figure out “what’s really going on” inside Dasen’s mind, and based solely on his reading of newspaper coverage of the trial, Williams wrote to us, “I favor the theory that he actually believes his own testimony…I suspect he sees himself as the victim of having too big of a heart…” and that he may “go to his grave seeing himself as a misunderstood philanthropist.”
Williams went on to compare Dasen’s case to that of Scott Peterson, in that both were crimes derived “from the sin of hubris.”
Dasen, Williams wrote, “may believe he has a ‘broader view’ of life, sex and money than that taken by society at large, and he may consider himself superior to those who would judge him.”
Maybe so, or maybe not. Either way, Kalispell’s former favorite citizen has indeed been judged.