Archive for February 26th, 2012

by jhwygirl

…because covering the tracks of rapists and enabling those that do the same isn’t something you “get a pass” on.

…because who investigates the investigators when they allow criminals to go free? And publicly defends their actions?

The ongoing, uninvestigated, unprosecuted assaults – including sexual assault and rape – at the University of Montana are enraging. First let’s review some of the recent facts:

1. The University of Montana Public Safety Office was made aware of a Feb. 10th assault on Feb. 10th. (read Montana Kaimen, Feb. 24) It appears that Public Safety was given the assailant’s name.

2. On the Tuesday 14th, UM’s Dean of Students Charles Couture called the victim, and set up a meeting for that Friday, Feb. 17. (No immediacy there, huh?)

3. Sometime after the 14th, the victim becomes aware of another similar assault, contacts that student (Student One).

4. Both students go to the Feb. 17th meeting with Couture – both students meeting each other at the meeting. It is clear that Couture was aware of the identify of the assailant and that he was here under a visa.

5. At 4:51 p.m., Friday Feb. 17th an email is sent to UMontana students warning of the two assaults: “It can be assumed that conditions continue to exist that may pose a threat to members and guests of the community.” (It can be assumed? Really? THEY HAD THE NAME OF THE ASSAILANT!)

6. At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Missoulian prints this story with the headline “Man suspected of sexually assaulting UM students known, but police not pursuing.” Missoula City Police could not, at this time, do anything as they did not yet have a complaint filed with them.

6. Sometime that same day, both women went to the Missoula City Police Department. Each spoke and gave a statement to a different detective and both picked the assailant’s picture out of a lineup.

7. Missoula City Police begin an investigation the next day, the women having contacted the police late on Tuesday.

8. That article hints at what, apparently, is justice for rape under the Student Code of Conduct: “Dean of Students Charles Couture also is investigating the reports. UM student code of conduct guidelines allow the university to expel students found to have committed the most egregious violations, such as sexual assault.” “Allows” being the key word.

9. Missoula finds out on Friday that the Saudi assailant has left the country.

Wow. Under a microscope for how they address sexual assault and this is what they do? There’s more….

President Engstrom held a Friday afternoon press conference (apparently even Foley won’t touch this one, which is too bad – he has plenty of experience in these types of issues) defending his interference with the Missoula City Police investigation. From the Missoulian:

The campus is safer because of the man’s departure, Engstrom said at a news conference that he called to clarify the sequence of events involved in the incidents. He called the university’s actions “timely” and “appropriate.” Any impression “that we sat around for a week before we did anything” is untrue, he said.

“We can let people know we have dealt with these (alleged assaults) and that particular perpetrator is gone,” Engstrom said.

KPAX has this video of Engstrom’s press conference, where Engstrom (doesn’t) explain why they didn’t report the first assault (Student Two) and that they didn’t find out about the second assault until Friday the 17th., and since they didn’t know there were two until Friday, no one should be complaining.

What else do we find out in the Missoulian article? That the assailant had been contacted repeatedly by UM Dean of Students Charles Couture before fleeing the country.

The University had the name of the assailant. They knew he was a Saudi national and that he had a visa. From the get-go. They informed the guy – who conveniently had an attorney present – that he was being accused of sexual assault.

I’d really love to know when they met with the solidly-identified assailant/rapist. Because if they did it after Tuesday when both of those victims had gone to the police, then the University interfered with a felony investigation, and they should be prosecuted accordingly.

That Student Code of Conduct is pretty convenient for rapists and other persons prone to violent crimes – the University will give you a head’s up and not notify authorities when you are a foreigner so that you can escape with no accountability for your crimes.

I feel for the victims. I can’t fathom how they feel.

City of Missoula? Don’t you feel safe?

Parents, grandparents? How you feeling about your female family members attending the University of Montana?

Which brings me to our Board of Regents, which oversees the state university system, and its newly-hired Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian. Christian told the Missoulian that he is pleased with President Engstrom’s handling of this most recent situation:

“I’ve been extremely pleased with how President Engstrom and his staff are handling the situation and I’m confident they’re doing a good job managing these things.”

The paid chief administrator, Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian says this on Friday? Knowing all of this?

Commissioner Clayton, btw, is owner of Stewart Title Company here in Missoula.

We are talking RAPE here Montana. RAPE. Daughters, sisters… If that makes you uncomfortable, I strongly suggest you get over it. People do not get a pass on rape. Rapists don’t get a pass on committing it, and the University of Montana shouldn’t get a pass when they protect the criminals who commit RAPE.

If you are a student at the University of Montana, it is clear you can not call or contact the University Public Safety (or the Dean or the President or a Vice President) if you are a victim. It is also clear that if you witness a crime, you can not call or contact the University Public Safety (or the Dean or the President or a Vice President) either.

9-1-1 calls also get routed to the Public Safety.

Call 523-6300. Program that number into your phone. If you witness anything, if you are the victim of anything, contact the City of Missoula Police. Any delay only ensures that President Engstrom and his crew will send the criminals on their merry way.

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by jhwygirl

I thought I had calmed down enough this morning to write about President Engstrom and the University of Montana’s utter malfeasance over the most recent assault and rape incidents, but I had to go read the paper this morning.

So until I can gather those thoughts cohesively, I do want to take the time to offer a public Thank You to the Missoulian’s crime and courts reporter Gwen Florio. An accompanying Thank You goes out to the editorial team that stood by Florio’s reporting, making what was probably a pretty hard decision to go forth and publish the first story that exposed the massive failure of the University of Montana in its treatment of rape and sexual assault.

Florio and the Missoulian took quite a bit of criticism from loyal Griz fans and University alumni when that first story went out – and some of it occurred here, also, in the comments on this blog’s pages.

Florio and her editors did this community, the students of the University and the taxpayers of Montana a huge service if you ask me, and I hope that Gwen and the Missoulian receive their due professional recognition for taking a story that many would have walked away from due to any number of perceived issues and putting it front page.

Especially when it involved so many sacred cows (like Griz football and the University of Montana – Missoula’s during-football-season $4 million-a-weekend cash cow.

Her excellent reporting continues, and I really hope that this story reaches the national attention it deserves. At this point now, it’s clear the University of Montana is protecting itself and itself only. There is no concern there for the victims of assault. None.

Engstrom’s acts are criminal – let’s be clear, his hands are all over this recent malfeasance which occurred while the University of Montana was under a microscope with regards to how it handles sexual assault. His hastily called late Friday afternoon press conference was only done to defend his and the University’s actions, with him explaining how he’d solved the issue (because the criminal has left the campus and the state.)

Really?

In addition to seeking extradition of the Saudi student who was identified by two victims as committing at least two assaults, including one criminal (and probably two acts of kidnapping or whatever it is called when you take someone and force alcohol and possibly drugs on them for the purposes of controlling and assaulting them,) Engstrom should be canned for facilitating this students escape back to his home country.

Gwen Florio and the news editors at the Missoulian? This reader and Montana taxpayer thanks you.




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