A judge dismissed a domestic violence charge against a Bozeman police officer after the attorney general’s office agreed to defer prosecution of the case.

Nathanael Gaukler, 35, was charged with misdemeanor partner family member assault in August after his then-wife told deputies that he had threatened her during an argument.

An eight-year veteran of the Bozeman Police Department who had been serving as one of two school resource officers for Bozeman High School, Gaukler was placed on paid administrative leave following his arrest while the department conducted an internal investigation.

Bozeman Police Chief Steve Crawford said Wednesday that the internal investigation remains open and Gaukler is still on paid leave.

Earlier this month, Assistant Attorney General Catherine Truman, who was prosecuting the case, filed a motion to dismiss the charge — which was granted by Gallatin County Justice Court Judge Rick West on Feb. 22 — after the parties had reached a deferred prosecution agreement.

A deferred prosecution agreement means that the state was willing to dismiss the case in return for the defendant agreeing to comply with a number of conditions for a certain time. At the end of that time, if the defendant has complied with the conditions, the state will consider the case closed and not prosecute.

In Gaukler’s case, he agreed to a six-month term in which he is not allowed to drink alcohol or go into bars, must get chemical dependency and counseling evaluations and follow any recommendations, participate in parenting classes, have no contact with the alleged victim or come within 1,500 feet of her, and not commit any new crimes.

If Gaukler violates any of the conditions, the state has discretion to take any action, including refiling the charge.

Truman declined to comment on the case. And defense attorney Ashley Whipple did not return a call from the Chronicle.

Gaukler was arrested by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office on the night of Aug. 19. Deputies responded to the Belgrade home after a person reported receiving a concerning text from Gaukler’s wife, who said that she was locked in a bedroom and that Gaukler was drunk and throwing things.

At the house, the woman told deputies that she had been in an argument with Gaukler after he wanted to see some papers she had in a bag. She said that Gaukler told her, “Don’t you dare go to sleep because I’m going to do everything in my power to get into those bags.”

According to deputies, the woman was emotional and reiterated that she wasn’t the one to call law enforcement. The woman said she was scared to share details with them, saying she didn’t hate Gaukler and that she was worried he would lose his job.

But she also made comments about being concerned for the safety of her children and said his statements to her made her scared that he would hurt her. When a deputy told her she appeared “petrified and scared to death,” the woman nodded.

Gaukler also told investigators that the two had been in an argument earlier in the day over the bag of documents. He said he had been drinking and that the woman threatened to call law enforcement. But, he added, “Nothing crazy happened, I’m telling you that right now.”

Gaukler said the two had been fighting and arguing, but that he hadn’t threatened her. However, when later confronted with the woman’s allegation that he had told her, “Don’t you dare go to sleep,” Gaukler said, “Yeah, I did tell her that.” He was arrested.

In court documents later filed in the case, Gaukler’s defense reiterated that he never threatened his wife, only telling her that if she fell asleep he intended to look at the documents in her bag. And Gaukler’s wife said that he had never acted violently toward her in the past and she only said she was scared of Gaukler hurting her when prompted by the deputy’s questions, the defense said.

Whitney Bermes can be reached at wbermes@dailychronicle.com or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.

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