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An Oregon man was sentenced to probation Wednesday for taking a missing 16-year-old Bozeman girl out of the state before she was found safely in Texas earlier this year.

Zachary Green Littlepage was sentenced to six years probation for felony custodial interference in the disappearance of the girl who went missing in January. He appeared via video in Gallatin County District Court before Judge John Brown, who followed a plea agreement from prosecutors and Littlepage’s defense attorney, Buddy Rutzke.

Littlepage is also required to pay a fine of $5,000. He was given credit for previously serving 129 days in the Gallatin County jail.

Littlepage is prohibited from contacting the girl until she turns 18 and only after she receives permission from Littlepage’s probation officer.

The girl’s aunt reported her missing, saying she may have been trying to get to Oregon to be with Littlepage.

Littlepage told a Homeland Security Investigations agent that he’d been chatting with the girl over three years over social media but hadn’t heard from her since the beginning of January, court documents say. Littlepage said he’d call law enforcement if he heard from the girl.

About a week later, Littlepage’s friend reported seeing Littlepage and the girl in Clatskanie, Oregon, according to charging documents.

Police said Littlepage told the friend that he and girl were “going to live off of the grid for a while until they could get an apartment together.” Officers later found the girl and Littlepage in Texas and arrested Littlepage.

Rutzke said in an email that Littlepage was unable to post the bail set at $75,000 and accepted the plea deal despite the possibility that what he did “was quite possibly not a crime, or at least possibly only a misdemeanor.”

He said Littlepage “would have had to buy his right to make a defense” by spending a year in jail. Rutzke said that’s more time than most first-time felons would spend incarcerated even if found guilty on a nonviolent crime.

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

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