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Hearing for order of protection against Nieves postponed a second time

A hearing on a request for a full order of protection against state Rep. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, has been postponed again -- this time at the request of Nieves' attorney.

Shawn Bell, a campaign worker for one of Nieves' opponents in the Aug. 3 Republican primary in the 26th state Senate District, has accused Nieves of threatening his life and brandishing a weapon during an encounter the day after the election. Nieves has called the Bell's claims "preposterous."

Bell's request for an order that Nieves have no more contact with him and to stay more than 100 feet away was to be heard Thursday afternoon by Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem in Jefferson City. A clerk in Beetem's office said the hearing was postponed at the request of Nieves' lawyer, Michael Payne. An earlier hearing in August had been continued at Bell's request.

The judge rescheduled the hearing for 1 p.m., Mon., Sept. 20.

Payne, Nieves' lawyer, said he had received the amended petition this week and based on the timing of it, he sought the continuance. The petition says repeatedly that Nieves' behavior has caused Bell to believe "there was a danger of physical harm."

The petition restates the claims Bell made in a report filed with the Washington Police Department on Aug. 5. Nieves has not been charged.

The petition also says that during the Republican race in the state Senate district, an anonymous letter was mailed to Franklin County residents alleging infidelity on Nieves' part. The petition said Nieves believed Bell was responsible for the anonymous mailer and that Nieves ordered him to apologize to his wife, Julie.  Michael Byrne, Bell's attorney, said Julie Nieves has been subpoenaed to appear at the protection order hearing.

Byrne also said Thursday that he knew of no talks that are taking place in an attempt to settle the dispute.

"Mr. Bell is concerned about his safety," Byrne said. "He wants a protective order."

Terry Ganey is an independent journalist in Columbia. This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.

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