DOJ report finds problems with Missoula Police investigations of sexual assault

A Department of Justice report released today finds instances of “significant deficiencies” in the Missoula Police Department’s investigations of sexual assault.

In response, the City of Missoula has signed a comprehensive settlement agreement to reform how the police conduct those investigations.

The announcement comes almost one week after the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division announced agreements to improve how the University of Montana responds to sexual assault allegations.

The investigation into the Missoula Police Department examined over 350 sexual assault reports from 2008 to 2012.

U-S Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Roy Austin, says the investigation revealed Missoula Police officers weren’t adequately trained to properly respond to sex assault complaints, investigations discouraged participation by victims and the department does not effectively coordinate with community partners.

The report says the Police Department’s response to sexual assault allegations were hampered by poor communications sometimes relied on gender-based stereotypes. It specifically points to a case in which a police detective told a woman the gang-rape she was reporting “was probably just a drunken night and a mistake.”  The detective then told her she “came across as kinda passive”. The same woman told Justice Department investigators she felt the detective was not only intimidating and rude, but his demeanor and statements left her feeling he didn’t believe her and that the assault had been her fault.

Another woman who ended up not pursuing criminal charges, reported a detective was constantly telling her how difficult it would be to testify in court.

The agreement requires the police department within two-years implement or revise its policies for investigating assaults, provide training to officers and their supervisors and change practices that discourage women from reporting sexual assaults.

UM President speaks about the pain of budget-trimming

Engstrom       The University of Montana won’t know till fall how many students are enrolled but UM expects to see another drop. Last fall, UM had 700 fewer students than the previous year, and the school expects, in a worst case scenario, they could be down another 450 this coming fall. Administrators are trying to plan for that. In this feature interview, UM President Royce Engstrom talks with News Director Sally Mauk about how UM is dealing with that projected shortfall.

Sally Mauk talks legislative priorities and federal investigations with UM President Royce Engstrom

Engstrom
University of Montana President Royce Engstrom is having a busy winter, preparing arguments for the legislature, hiring a new Cabinet, and steering the campus through two federal investigations and an NCAA investigation. In tonight’s feature interview, Engstrom sits down with News Director Sally Mauk to talk first about legislative priorities. Those include making sure the university system gets a boost in funding to cover inflation and other rising costs:…

Sally Mauk’s report on the federal sexual assault investigation of Missoula and UM

Sally Mauk

The federal Department of Justice announced they are investigating if Missoula’s police and prosecutors – and the University of Montana –  have properly handled numerous reports of alleged sexual assault over the last three years. News Director Sally Mauk attended the press conference DOJ held with local officials, and filed this live report. It includes excerpts from the press conference, as well as Sally’s interviews with the lead federal investigator Thomas Perez – and UM President Royce Engstrom…