A Libby-area man could spend more than 20 years in prison following his arrest Sept. 13, 2016. Robert Gene Clift was charged in Lincoln County Justice Court with a misdemeanor count of unlawful restraint and a felony count of aggravated assault.
Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Brent Faulkner was dispatched to an address on Falcon Trail at approximately 3 p.m. on Sept. 13 in response to a report of a woman in distress lying in a driveway. Upon arrival, Deputy Faulkner found the woman inside a house, aided by an unidentified party. Faulkner reported signs of an obvious assault.
“Upon arrival I found that Victim had been let into a house by an uninvolved person,” Faulkner wrote in the affidavit of probable cause. “I identified her. It was immediately clear that she had been the victim of an assault. Her face was very swollen, she had black eyes developing with one eye looking like it would eventually close, and had blood coming from her mouth. She was crying and upset and terrified her attacker would walk in the door at any moment.”
The victim identified her assailant as Robert Gene Clift, 44. She told Faulkner she was driving with Clift in the passenger seat when he hit her in the face, took over driving her vehicle, and continued to hit her as he drove to his residence on Falcon Trail, where he kept her inside the house and continued to assault her.
“Victim was first hit on the face while driving her KIA vehicle along Highway 2 near Hammer Cutoff Road,” Faulkner wrote. “Clift then took over the driving and continued hitting her while he drove. Clift drove Victim to his house and physically made her go inside the residence against her will. She wanted to leave and was terrified to go in. She knew she was in trouble when she realized Clift’s children were not inside the resident to possibly prevent further assault. Clift then took her to a bedroom and continued the assault. During this period Clift repeatedly struck Victim on her face and torso. Clift smothered Victim by holding his hand over Victim’s mouth and nose so that she couldn’t breathe. Victim faked like she had passed out but he would then hit her and start smothering her again. Clift sat atop Victim with his knees on her shoulders and choked her by placing his hands around Victim’s throat. Victim said that Clift said he was going to kill her several times. She was terrified.”
Following the assault, the victim reported Clift passed out in the house and she ran away. She ran to a neighboring house, where the resident brought her inside and contacted law enforcement. The victim was taken to Cabinet Peaks Medical Center and then transferred by ALERT helicopter to Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
Upon further investigation, a witness reported seeing the couple “having words” on the side of the road near Hammer Cutoff. Faulkner also located the victim’s vehicle in front of Clift’s home, corroborating her account of the incident.
According to Faulkner’s report, Clift also has a previous case of partner family member assault pending in Troy. He was arrested and ordered held on $250,000 bond.