UMontana Rapes: More Than Just President Engstrom Needs to Go

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.


  1. JC

    “It can be assumed that conditions continue to exist that may pose a threat to members and guests of the community.”

    Whoever composed that email should send it over to the J-school, where it would promptly be dissected and rewritten:

    “A rapist remains at large on the UofM campus. Students, faculty and guests should be aware of this threat and take appropriate actions: xyz….”

    The reason the email was written in the passive tense in such a convoluted form was to deflect responsibility and accountability and minimize the audience’s reaction.

    PR flaks are paid to write these sorts of emails/announcements in ways that are ambiguous and worded so that the severity of a situation is defused.

    I take this intentional (or flagrantly inept) writing style to be indicative that the U is either: 1) scrambling to cover its ass; or 2) so inept it doesn’t have a clue what is going on or how to respond. Of course, both might be true…

  2. Matthew Koehler

    I’m certainly not comparing the UM rapes/sexual assaults with UM’s Biomass Plant….

    However, having spent some time over at UM’s Main Hall (last April and again last month) pouring over documents and internal emails of UM’s top administrators related to the UM Biomass Plant as part of an open records search, one certainly gets an idea of the great lengths that some UM top administrators will go to make sure they control public relations.

    Here’s an actual email from UM’s VP of Finance regarding UM’s Biomass PR….Does anyone really think this type manipulation and mindset isn’t also part of UM’s handling of the rapes/sexual assaults?

    “We all need to remember that what we are constructing is a public relations story, not a scientific analysis. We need to be straight with the facts but tilt the story towards our perspective. Small words, short sentences, no jargon is what the general public will find appealing.”

  3. Daughters…must we send them armed in the epic Montana fashion because our rugged individualism requires we will not rely upon our institutions to react appropriately to criminal acts? But how can our families justify sacrifice to send our sons there either? Re-branding isn’t going to cut it—this is absolutely shameful. Engstrom seems to continue the ridiculous attitude that a plausible public relations story will do the trick. Accountability and consequences are needed. Enforce the laws! As much as our backwards-looking contingent would like to go back to the good-ole-days, this is not Saudi Arabia, where women are objects. Perhaps they’re not wanting to send a message to the foreign millionaire friends, the hopeful future investors, that their sons might be prosecuted here for behaviors that are acceptable in their home countries. Disappointing too, in what seems to be the student government giving the administration a pass. Call 911 indeed. And after that, what?

  1. 1 President Engstrom: Call For a Retraction If the Media is Wrong « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] You can read a re-hashing (along with links) of his malfeasance here. […]




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

    Miles on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    success rate for In… on Thirty years ago ARCO killed A…
    Warrior for the Lord on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Linda Kelley-Miller on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Dan on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    Former Prosecutor Se… on Former Chief Deputy County Att…
    JediPeaceFrog on Montana AG Tim Fox and US Rep.…
  • Recent Posts

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,673,280 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,736 other followers

  • February 2012
    S M T W T F S
    « Jan   Mar »
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    26272829  
  • Categories


%d bloggers like this: