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Father, son get probation for harassing Palin attorney

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A father and son previously ordered to keep away from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin were sentenced on Friday to serve five years of probation for harassing her family's lawyer.

Craig Christy, 48, and his 20-year-old son, Shawn, pleaded guilty in January to charges stemming from hundreds of threatening and often-obscene telephone calls they admitted placing last August to Fairbanks attorney John Tiemessen, his colleagues and relatives.

The father and son were arrested in their home state of Pennsylvania and have been jailed in Alaska for most of the time since then. Sentencing was delayed until court-order psychiatric examinations were completed.

Probationary terms included a requirement that Shawn Christy spend up to 180 days in a residential treatment center. Other terms for both men included restrictions on their Internet use, prohibitions on contacting various Alaska residents and limits on contact with state court officials.

Any violation could land them in prison for up to two years, and lead to prosecutors bringing additional criminal charges that they have so far declined to file, U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess warned the two defendants.

But an outburst by the son during the proceedings prompted the judge to express misgivings about the young man's ability to stay out of legal trouble in the future.

"I'm a little concerned that you are having difficulty coming to grips with the situation you're in today," Burgess told Shawn Christy after he interrupted the hearing to declare the case against him illegal and in violation of his civil rights.

Craig Christy, his voice breaking at times, read an apology in court.

"I take full responsibility for blowing this whole situation out of control and not showing my son better coping skills," he told the court. "I hope one day, all of those I have hurt and offended can find it in their heart to forgive me."

Palin's parents, Chuck and Sally Heath, attended the back-to-back sentencing hearings but declined to comment to reporters. Their daughter, the former governor and 2008 Republican nominee for U.S. vice president, was not present.

Tiemessen, who also attended, told reporters he and others never wanted to hear from the Christys again. "The only adequate remedy is a remedy that results in our firm, our family and our clients being left alone," he said.

The Christys were placed under restraining orders issued by a state court in 2010 and 2011 over repeated telephone calls that authorities said they made to Palin, her parents and a longtime friend of the former governor.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Steve Gorman and David Brunnstrom)

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