Missoulian: Feds Rip Missoula Police Department For Mishandling Sex Assaults


A U.S. Department of Justice report, made public May 15, says the Missoula, Mont., police department does a lousy job in dealing with reports of sexual assault, reporting that police practices even discouraged rape victims from cooperating with law enforcement. In one incident, a victim of a reported gang rape was told it was "probably just a drunken night and a mistake," and in another report, a detective characterized a reported rape as "mostly voluntary fueled by alcohol." In other incidents of reported rape, women were asked about their sexual histories.

In May 2012, the DOJ said it would look into more than 80 reported rapes in and around the University of Montana, focusing on complaints that local law enforcement failed to properly investigate and prosecute sexual assaults on women in Missoula because of gender discrimination.

This morning's Missoulian reports that Missoula Mayor John Engen said that, "while we may not necessarily agree with all the allegations, we're ready to move forward."

“MPD’s investigations are marked by practices that significantly compromise the effectiveness of MPD’s response to sexual assault and contribute to the under-enforcement of sexual assault laws in Missoula,” according to a letter from the DOJ to Engen.

Meanwhile, the Missoulian reports that Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg has refused to cooperate with federal investigators, saying his office did nothing wrong and that the feds have no authority for their action.