Zachary Green Littlepage

Zachary Green Littlepage appears in court Wednesday at the Law and Justice Center in Bozeman.

An Oregon man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges stemming from a missing 16-year-old girl who was found safe in Texas.

Zachary Green Littlepage, 20, is charged with felony custodial interference. He appeared in Gallatin County District Court before Judge John Brown. Bail was set at $75,000.

Gaberielle Harding went missing Jan. 28. Harding’s aunt reported to officers that Harding may have been trying to get to Oregon to be with Littlepage.

Littlepage subsequently told a Homeland Security Investigations agent that he had been messaging Harding for three years over social media but hadn’t heard from her since early January, court documents said. Littlepage promised he’d call law enforcement if he heard from Harding.

About a week later, Littlepage was reportedly seen with Harding in Clatskanie, Oregon, court documents said.

Police said in charging documents that Littlepage told a friend that he and Harding were “going to live off of the grid for a while until they could get an apartment together.” Officers later found Harding driving with Littlepage in Hudspeth County, Texas, and Littlepage was arrested.

In court on Wednesday, prosecutor Erin Murphy asked that Littlepage have no contact with witnesses or the alleged victim in this case.

Judge Brown asked, “even if they’re engaged?”

Refling said he thought communication between Littlepage and the alleged victim was appropriate if they were prohibited from talking about the case.

After speaking with Littlepage, Refling said, it sounded like there was more context to the situation than what had been filed in the charging documents.

Judge Brown sided with Murphy and ordered Littlepage not talk to witnesses or the alleged victim. If he posts bail, Brown said, Littlepage will be brought back to court to set conditions for his release.

If convicted, Littlepage could face up to 10 years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2630.

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