An Invitation to Montana Attorney General Tim Fox

by jhwygirl

I’ve still yet to finish off the USDOJ investigative report into the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, but I am now on page 17. The problem I’ve had in finishing it isn’t time, but that my blood pressure goes up so much I have to get up and punch a wall or two, and then go for a walk. But I”m scaring the neighbors now with all my gesticulations as I power walk Misdemeanor Meadows, so clearly it’s time to fire off a post.

The USDOJ’s report is lots of things. It’s damning. It’s infuriating. It’s disgusting. It’s heartbreaking, It’s sickening. It’s maddening. The adjectives and the feelings are endless. But lessons need to be learned, and actions must be taken.

As I read the USDOJ’s report of sexual assault after sexual assault. Of gang rape. Or rapes unreported because victims already knew of the humiliation that would be handed down by Missoula County criminal prosecutors…I ponder the concept of justice and whether any semblance of it is, at all, reachable.

Does exposing Van Valkenburg’s leadership of the Missoula County’s Attorney’s office suffice? Certainly not – and especially if you attempt to think of it in the perspective of a sexual assault victim.

The statute of limitations for sexual assault in Montana is 10 years. If the victim is less than 18, then the 10 year timeline begins when the victim turns 18. I’ll further point out that having the victim testify is not always needed to prosecute rape.

The USDOJ report lays out violations of not only civil rights and equal protection under our U.S. Constitution, it lays out violations of the same in the Montana Constitution, along with Montana law. As I mentioned above, I’ve only gotten to page 17, but that does mean that I’ve read of at least two specific violations of Montana Code by the Missoula County Attorney’s Office.

Page 10 refers to MCA 46-24-104, which requires the prosecutor in any criminal case to consult and coordinate with the victims of criminal acts. Van Valkenburg’s County Attorney’s Office failed to do this to disastrous results.

Page 17 points to violations of MCA 45-5-501(1)(a) which says that a victim who is incapacitated is incapable of consent. Again – and in a town where it’s well-known by women the need to guard their drinks – this was a part of Montana law that Van Valkenburg and his crew of prosecuting criminal attorney’s were apparently unaware of it’s existence in code.

Both of those state law violations applied to multiple cases investigated by the USDOJ, who operated (let us not forget) without the cooperation of Van Valkenburg’s office. All of these violations, aside from Montana’s constitutional guarantees – many of which mirror the U.S. Constitution – went unprosecuted.

I point these out because this is the area which is now under the purview of Montana Attorney General Tim Fox. In this situation, the groundwork has been laid out painfully and publicly by the USDOJ’s office, and I dare suggest that not only is this is something Tim Fox can not ignore, it should now be his job to take on prosecution of these cases.

I’d like that he also review the negotiated plea agreement with the rapist of a 5 year old, too.

Fred Van Valkenburg is out of the office until something like the 24th of the month. I realize Monday is a holiday, but I would certainly hope that Tim Fox can see fit to have a state investigator in Missoula County’s County Attorney’s Office by Tuesday, beginning interviews and investigations into these state violations and unprosecuted cases.

Justice demands it.

Tim Fox focused a large part of his run for office on sexual predators of children, and his office did take swift action on that issue. It’s time for Tim Fox focus on sexual assault victims, many of whom are (or were) students at the University of Montana. Just as the USDOJ’s agreement with the University is being held up as a model for university and college campuses around the United States, Tim Fox’s intervention here into Missoula regarding violations of state laws concerning sexual assault can be a learning experience for communities around the state – and perhaps legislator’s also.

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  1. Absolutely right. I was planning to write the same comment tonight, but you’ve done a much better job than I would have. It’s time for the Attorney General to act.

    • Thanks Don…that came out of our tweets earlier.

  2. Nice work, thanks for putting this together. Now, will there be a response? I guess I’m wondering, how long is the state going to keep allowing Missoula to dig itself deeper into this hole.

    Even $400,000 might seem low in a few years if we keep our heels dug in on these issues. I lived for many years in a country where men are outnumbering women, and I don’t want to see that on UM’s campus.

  3. Buzz Feedback

    Reading the DoJ report, two things occur to me.

    1) The article in the paper doesn’t even scratch the surface of the rats nest of crazy $hit that’s gone on at the Cty. Atty’s office.

    2) It’s clear why FvV is lashing out like a cornered animal. The MPD and UM Public Safety cut their deals with DoJ. Now Fred’s out there on an island all by himself and it’s all coming down on him. Even the cops are throwing him under the bus.

    No wonder he doesn’t want anybody going through his files.

    • Fred’s also got a problem with DOJ attorney Michael Cotter. Van Valkenburg wanted that job and it eats at him that he’s been asked to answer to him.

      • Whoa, ho, ho – the plot thickens!

  4. Many of us involved in the marijuana decriminalization movement also saw Van Valkenberg’s political agenda at play when the citizens of Missoula Co voted to make marijuana possession the lowest priority crime and then saw Fred not only ignore the will of the people, but increase arrests. I can not put together how the apparently liberal citizens of Missoula haven’t removed a man with his own agenda that clearly is in opposition to the values of the people, in terms of both marijuana decriminalization and sexual assault.

    • There’s no way in law to remove him, Tim. That’s my understanding, as it has been discussed.

      Pogreba’s calling for him to leave. I’ve got my own call for his removal, going up tomorrow morning.

    • I have a feeling the people of Missoula will think differently when he comes up again.

      • He’s already said he’s not running. One former criminal prosecutor of his office is, tho: Kirsten Pabst. And she’s stuck by Van Valkenburg’s ‘I haven’t done anything wrong’ mantra. That this whole rape issue has been overblown.

  1. 1 Open Letter to Attorney General Tim Fox. It’s Time to Get Involved in Missoula :: Intelligent Discontent

    […] (Please also read jhwygirl’s take over at 4and20blackbirds.) […]




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