FOIA Request by Missoulian Exposes the CYA Boys Club From Mayor to U. Montana

by jhwygirl

The disgusting underbelly of the good old boy’s club – ‘you cover our ass, we’ll cover yours’ mentality – has been pretty much laid bare over this weekend in a series of articles from the Missoulian’s Gwen Florio.

On Saturday we got Emails show UM, city accounts differ on Saudi rape suspect and UM dean implicated 4 football players in gang rape, emails reveal – a lowlight hightlight of that being U. Montana Vice President and thug Jim Foley’s great offense to the term “gang rape” and that the university’s own legal council David Aronofsky had been advised by the National Association of College and University Attorneys that hiding a felon behind the student code of conduct may violate state laws.

Geez – you have to go to law school to know that? Because that’s what many of us have been complaining about for months.

And just to repeat a salient point here – when you deny someone justice, you have violated their civil rights.

Just in case anyone is wondering why the U.S. Justice Department civil rights division is in town.

I also tend to think that Coach Pflugrad won’t be showing up to that office he still has over there at U. Montana.

This morning we get even nastier news that thug Foley sought to use the so-called Student Code of Conduct against the rape victim who had been speaking publicly about the handling of the rape and sexual assault cases at the U.


The fact that his questions were even friggin’ tolerated among university administration who were part of his emails on this tactic – the story naming then-Dean of Students Charles Coutur, chief council David Aranofsky, and UM’s director of equal opportunity and affirmative action Lucy France – is beyond comprehension.

At this point, if every parent in this state – if every parent of every out of state child – and if every alumni from everywhere hasn’t contacted the Montana Board of Regents to direct them to take a comprehensive investigation and correction of this malfeasance, then they should be now.

Even more disgusting for Missoulians, the every-so-pleasant Mayor John Engen was right in there with U Montana’s Vice President Tim Foley and President Royce Engstrom. Working feverishly to protect the University of Montana image (and those that had violated the rights of sexual assault victims), even after Engstrom & Co. had facilitated the escape of the Saudi rapist – while violating the civil rights of Missoula City Police officer Geoff Curtis.

Progressive Mayor Engen? Calling a cop out on the carpet and sending him to apologize to UM President Royce Engstrom for an email he send while off duty and from his private email account?

And just to repeat a salient point here – the First Amendment which protects free speech is a civil right.

How does an elected official send a police officer – who is charged with enforcing the law and protecting the rights of others – off to apologize for exercising his right to free speech? The pornographic assault on the constitution with just this one incident is simply astounding.

And sure – there will still be those out there defending our illustrious Mayor Engen, because after all, he’s a nice fun guy. Tells lots of great jokes at parties.

Katie J. M. Baker at Jezebel picked up an important piece of information (imo) in her weekend in the U.S.’s new Rape Capitol – and those of you still wishing to give the oh-so-nice Mayor John Engen a pass would do wise to take notice. Because things aren’t going to change here until all of the problem players are held in check.

Ms. Baker refers to Engen’s interview with CNN’s with Erin Burnett, which I had caught live. I was caught off guard with Burnett quizzing Engen on reports that the police were hading out pamphlets on false reporting penalties to rape and assault victims. Engen’s interview had left me upset not only for his inability – even with the justice department in town looking into civil rights violations – to grasp the seriousness of situation, but also his convoluted excuse-making for Chief Muir’s handing out of pamphlets.

Engen also falsely puts forth that Muir didn’t believe in the literature he was handing out. Now – anyone that pays attention here in Missoula knows that Muir did put forth that most rape reports were false until he was corrected by council woman Cynthia Wolken.

Ms. Baker went a digging on that one and spoke with the woman who had brought forth that allegation.

The next few weeks were even more frustrating for Kerry. The detective assigned to her case canceled meetings, failed to call her back, and told Kerry “not to expect much.” After interviewing a tearful Gabe, the detective concluded he was so distraught that he was possibly suicidal. “I was like, great, I’m glad you’re so concerned about his well-being,” Kerry said. When she asked Police Chief Muir why it mattered if she had a boyfriend, he told her that most rape reports are false. After she argued that, in fact, generally accepted data suggests only about six percent are indeed false, Muir emailed her a dubious 2009 report from The Forensic Examiner supporting his claims. “I guess I just didn’t want you to think I was just pulling stuff out of thin air,” he wrote.

Engen defending Police Chief Muir without having the full picture was just a glimpse into his draw-the-wagon’s-up-boys mentality…and it’s even uglier now to look at now that we know the exchange between him and Engstrom…and that he sent a police officer over to apologize for criticizing the university.

Jezebel took a beating in the comments on her post a little – Missoulians and/or UMontana connected people attaching her for coming into “my town” and “my university.” I read Jezebel with too irregularity (I admit) but I do know they don’t give a shit about being criticized. Goddess bless ’em, because this story needs all the attention it can garner.

Even today, in the comments of the Missoulian – with emails of Engen and Engstrom and Foley exposed – there are those that continue to defend the entire group of sycophantic administrators complicit in Missoula and the university’s rape and sexual assault problem.

I know that isn’t what Missoula is about. Goddess help us if it is.

  1. mtstargazer

    Wow…great hard hitting post today. Thank you! I hope that Missoulians know in order to grow beyond things like this we have to first acknowledge that the injustice exists, advocate and support the rights of both the victim and accused then discuss prevention, education and reform. I hope the discussion continues from here as it seems everyone has been pretty quiet on this issue. Again thanks for bringing forward the discussion.

  2. mahmet7

    Without Williams and Baucus, there could be no Foley. Heresy you say? It’s the system that’s broken.
    Who engineered this system and wicked arrangement of gears that grind our most vulnerable into unspeakable dust? Proles unite.

  3. Matthew Koehler

    Good post J-Girl and excellent suggestion that everyone contact the Board of Regents for an investigation. The same accountability channels should be followed with the city of Missoula for their role in this. Sorry, but Mayor Engen’s email (and attitude) revealed in yesterday’s Missoulian article was almost just as disgusting as Jim Foley’s.

    The Missoulian also deserves a big thanks for all their coverage on this issue. I’ve been a critic of the paper, especially their coverage of environmental and public lands issues over the years, but much of this wouldn’t be coming to light if it wasn’t for the Missoulian and their folks pouring over public documents, internal emails and asking tough questions.

    When we conducted an open records search of documents and internal emails related to UM’s proposed $16 million wood-burning biomass plant in March 2011, and again in December 2011, we uncovered a similar disturbing pattern by some of the upper-level administrators at the UM. Of course, the biomass plant was peanuts compared with the seriousness of the current issues and allegations; however, it appears to me that there is a pattern to some of UM’s upper-level management’s actions and attitudes…a disturbing pattern that has no place at a public university.

    Finally, given what was revealed in the internal emails printed in the Missoulian, I think it’s important (or at least interesting) for people to go back and re-read the recent exchange of editorials and letters in the Montana Kaimin from last month.

    Kaimin Editorial: Go back to D.C., Jim Foley

    Letter: Foley responds to editorial, says he’s staying in Missoula

    Letter: Kaimin should use its power wisely

    By Jenifer Gursky, ASUM President
, Jeffrey Edmunds, ASUM Vice President
, Luke Sims, ASUM Business Manager

    SNIP: “Fire Jim Foley? I guess … if that means we also fire our Police Chief, our Mayor, our President, our Dean of Students, our Greek liaison, our Provost and our VP for Student Affairs. Come on, Kaimin, where does it end? When we finish condemning and demanding resignations, what will we have left?”

    • To note, Jennifer Gursky is running for a state house seat right here in Missoula.

      I hope people consider hire this so-called progressive stood up for the students during her tenure during this crisis.

      Hell – she was one of the boys in this CYA club.



  4. Melinda Gopher

    Our experience dealing with Jim Foley when we complained about Baucus’ mishandling of the Chippewa rights issue in Rocky Boy was the similar as what was done here–Foley orchestrated a media blackout in Great Falls, that was 12 years ago. I wondered when he would get caught abusing power; everyone at every level of authority failed the victims in this, and that is very sad.

  5. G6

    The emperor has no clothes! Or is it the emperors have no clothes?

  6. Adam

    Thanks for the good post. It’s about time Missoula starts wising up to the good ol’ boys. I thought you might take interest in this email from the Mayor, subject “Hindsight and regret”:

    Good morning, folks.

    I make mistakes, some big, some small.

    Not all of them appear in newspaper headlines, but one did on Sunday and I wanted to let you, the officers I count on to serve and protect our community, know that I’m sorry for that mistake.

    I overreacted to an e-mail written by an officer on his own time with his own e-mail account that criticized The University of Montana’s handling of sexual assaults. At the time, I was worried that a critical e-mail from one of my own, even written as a private citizen, could hinder progress we’d made with UM in ensuring good, open communication. I was also concerned that the e-mail would harm the officer’s credibility and ability to do his job effectively.

    In the end, I apologized for something that wasn’t mine to apologize for and I asked someone to apologize for expressing his opinion outside of his work life. Now, months later, I regret both of those actions.

    If I had it to do over, I’d have had a private talk with the officer about my concerns and left it at that. I hope I’ve learned from my mistake and I hope that I haven’t harmed my own credibility with all of you.

    You should also know that the officer was not “reprimanded;” no formal disciplinary action was taken.

    I’m copying all employees, because I want them in the loop.

    Thanks again for all you do.

    John Engen
    City of Missoula
    435 Ryman Street
    Missoula, Montana 59802
    Office: 406-552-6001

    • lizard19

      sounds like he’s sorry he got caught, and next time he won’t leave a paper trail.

      thanks for posting this, Adam.

      • petetalbot

        Isn’t that usually when people apologize, liz, when they get caught? I don’t believe that makes the apology any less meaningful.

        • Buzz Feedback

          Yeah. That’s how it works. For children. I expect a bit more out of adults. I need to remember that low expectations are the key to contentment when it comes to public officials.

        • lizard19

          the mayor isn’t apologizing for taking issue with this officer’s criticism, just how he decided to take issue with him, which was via e-mail, which was how he got caught.

          what I find troubling is the mayor’s concern that this one officer’s criticism could hinder progress we’d made with UM in ensuring good, open communication.

          hopefully, behind the scenes, the mayor is being honest and forthright about why there has NOT been good, open communication between a public university and the community in which it exists.

          and hopefully, as this investigation continues, people are held accountable, like Jim Foley, who needs to be fired or compelled to resign ASAP.

          right now too much concern is being put into PR damage control. I see the mayor’s apology as part of that larger effort.

          • petetalbot

            First, Buzz, that’s how it works in the adult world, too. When was the last time you saw an apology from anyone on any subject that wasn’t the result of an indiscretion going public (unless it’s someone writing their memoirs decades after the fact)?

            I’m certainly not defending Engen’s email or cozy relationship with UM administrators but his apology seems sincere and even contains a hint of introspection.

            I do have high expectations for public officials and Lord knows I’ve often been let down. I think Engen has done a pretty good job as mayor, though.

            And liz, a big part of the mayor’s job description is PR. A city’s top elected official’s reaction to his or her city getting slammed in the media is to defend said city.

            I couldn’t agree more with the statements that Missoula needs to be more proactive in dealing with sexual assaults, that investigations need to continue and there has to be accountability.

            People have been quick to call for the heads of anyone involved in this fiasco. Now that more-and-more facts are coming to light, some of these calls are justified: O’Day and Pflugrad, for example, but I’d wait until the investigations are concluded before going too French Revolution.

            • What, exactly, does Mayor Engen apologize for Pete? He closes that letter off by essentially saying he’d do it again, just in a different manner.

              So he’d still kow-tow to UMontana Engstrom/Foley, and he’d still suppress the City of Missoula police officer Geoff Owen’s right to free speech? Really?

              Looks like it me.

              What do you see him apologizing for, Pete?


              • petetalbot

                People comprehend things differently. Here’s what I got out of the apology:

                “I’m sorry for that mistake. I overreacted to an e-mail written by an officer on his own time with his own e-mail account that criticized The University of Montana’s handling of sexual assaults …
                In the end, I apologized for something that wasn’t mine to apologize for and I asked someone to apologize for expressing his opinion outside of his work life. Now, months later, I regret both of those actions … I hope I’ve learned from my mistake … “

  7. jack ruby

    Wow what a shit show. The state papers outside missoula are not giving this the coverage it deserves.

  8. Rob Kailey

    Terrific post.

    I heard this morning that U of M’s Spring enrollment completion was down about 400 students. That’s a good thing. It will get the attention of the GOB network outside of Missoula, like say among the Board of Regents.

    If I have a small ‘quibble’ with this post, it is:

    “I know that isn’t what Missoula is about. Goddess help us if it is.”

    I’ve taken a little bit of flack for pointing out that ‘yes’, that is what Missoula has become about. I grew up in the area and lived there for way too many years. I used to love that town. I was one of the first to suggest that the problems you folks face weren’t with just the UM, or the football team, but rather the atmosphere of the town itself. It is with no joy or schadenfreude that I suggest today’s revelations validate the dislike I’ve come to have for Missoula. If there is a tragic upside to all of this, it’s that Missoulians have a chance to take their town back. Not just from the UM Grizzlies or from Foley or from the University admin. You folks can take your town back from the arrogance of those like Engen who think Missoula a moral center with no real reason to do so. Missoula has a moral will; it always has and hopefully always will. That requires moral movement from the town, not just myopic adherence to the image held by its mayor.

    Seriously, folks. I wish you luck. It’s going to be a bumpy several months.

  9. Dem Dame

    Great post! Thank you for this coverage and for pointing our Mayor’s behavior in the post above. It is time for Foley to resign.

  10. Virgil Kane

    “I’m very sorrowful one of the premier universities in the Rockies has been scandalized by a few knuckleheaded students,” said Pat Williams, a former United States congressman and a member of Montana’s Board of Regents. “The football team has been terribly hurt by this.” (from the New York Times)

    Yeah, well, I’m not terribly worried about the football team, But it fits in with the reply to Rob, doesn’t it? The investigation over civil rights violations is NOT a Bobcat Conspiracy. The whole state is getting embarrassed by the scandal in Missoula which reaches to top levels of university and local government administrations, and by the statements of individuals like the Williams quote and the County Attorney’s quote when the civil rights investigation was announced. It’s NOT just a few knuckleheaded students embarrassing us, you’ve now joined that kegger yourself, Pat.

    But embarrassment can’t compare the damage done to the women who are victims of these crimes and their families and anger at the lack of investigation and the attempt to intimidate them into silence.

    Add Pat Williams to that FOIA request. I think the good ole boys are still shovelin the shit.


    • Virgil Kane

      I see Duganz has a post up now with similar sentiments. Have you written the Regents, because the meeting of the Board is tomorrow and the situation has got to be addressed.

  1. 1 Monday Morning Politics « The Western Word

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