Why Is Van Valkenburg Consulting with Seattle? Seattle Violated Civil Rights.

by jhwygirl

The Missoulian is reporting that County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg is requesting $100,000 to plan for the risk exposure from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into 518 rapes and sexual assaults here in Missoula over the last 4 years. From Dale Bicknell, Chief Administrative Officer for Missoula County:

“We may have some risk here and we’re trying to plan for it.”

Van Valkenburg, you might remember, is refusing to cooperate with the DOJ investigation. He’s also provided all of his correspondence with the DOJ, along with a reply to previous postings here at 4&20 on the matter.

For my part, I remain unconvinced and believe that his behaviour is unproductive. I want his cooperation. Van Valkenburg’s lack of cooperation is disconcerting, to say the least – and comments in the Missoulian do seem to indicate that concern (and more.)

Apparently, even Missoula County officials are feeling the same. From the Missoulian article

Bickell said Van Valkenburg’s stance leaves the county feeling that it might need to protect itself on two fronts.

“One is to cover any costs of outside counsel, should there be some sort of litigation,” he said. In late May, a Justice Department letter to Van Valkenburg said that “we remain hopeful that our offices can work cooperatively so that we can resolve our investigation promptly and, if our investigation leads to findings, avoid unnecessary litigation.”

I supposed the County Commissioners are in a bit of a hard place – Van Valkenburg is an elected official. But instead of just doling out $100K, perhaps they should ask why they should have to do that.

How does his position benefit the victims? Benefit Missoula?

In other words, is Van Valkenberg’s stubbornness going to be one huge taxpayer dollar money suck, and to what purpose? Wouldn’t it be more prudent for Van Valkenberg to cooperate?

Does anyone (but Fred) think that Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg is going to keep the DOJ from its investigation? The DOJ has had UMontana’s cooperation – and they’ve had the City of Missoula Police’s too. That along with interviews gives the DOJ a significant part of the puzzle already.

The interesting little tidbit in the Missoulian story is towards the end where Van Valkenburg referenced the Seattle Police Department as an example of how expensive dealing with the DOJ can become.

The Seattle Police Department? In December, the DOJ released a zillion page investigation which basically said that the Seattle PD violated civil rights by using excessive force 20% of the time. There was also a pattern of racial bias. And corruption.

Seattle is apparently still unwilling to cooperate with the DOJ towards resolution.

And – even without Seattle having been found to have violated civil rights, Van Valkenburg has more than just the commonality of having the DOJ wanting to look at records with the Seattle PD – the person leading the investigation? Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

The denial going around doesn’t stop with Van Valkenburg and his mysterious clan of email buddies cheering him on – Engstrom is continuing his happy-go-lucky ways, saying in the Missoulian article on the Penn State sanctions: “The situations (at Penn State and UM) are so totally different that it just doesn’t make any sense to compare them.”


Yeah…well that’s another post.

Van Valkenburg should cooperate. It shows lack of concern for victims. It’s a losing proposition. And it’s costly.

  1. Told you Guys…. The man was gonna hit Missoula’s pocket! Good luck with that!

  2. Buzz Feedback

    Fred likes to golf. Maybe they’ll send him to one of those Country Club-style lockups.

  3. Fred is out of his mind. He’s was always incompetent before but now he is just looney tunes…. he needs to step down so the Missoula County District Attorney’s office can function properly for all of the people of Missoula County, including victims. The D.O.J. is hot on the trail of Fred’s long list of negligence’s toward victims of crime in this County. His reluctance to prosecute offenders of sexual violence and rape in Missoula county is well known. Our District Attorney’s office is not Fred Van Valkenburg’s personal play toy.

    it is time the citizens of Missoula County recall Fred so he can spend the rest of his days at Missoula Country club without taxpayers paying his salary.

    • I know there is something you can do quicker then recall, Nows the time for the Commissioners to put there foot down.and say NO to Fred, and allow the Government in!

      Now’s the time you force him into administrative leave,then allow the government in to do their job.The Federal AG and their investigators are as daunting as a county can stand. If the guys incompetent he will be wisked away, plus anyone he tried to cover

      Trust me, I have seen it myself.The fine folk will feel their wallets get lighter then a hundred Thousand.in Lawyer fees, thats just a drop in the Bucket. The federal lawyers can ask to recoup their fees and expenses also, and the county will pay that bill too.

  4. I want all cases of assault, sexual or otherwise, to receive the attention and prosecution of the County Attorney’s Office. All victims of crimes deserve that, as does our society. I don’t want elected officials to be able to obfuscate any failure to perform their duties on behalf of citizens. Citizens rely on all parts of the law enforcement system to protect them and transparency and accountability should apply in law enforcement as well as any other part of governance..

    Is there, then, any other reason that would support Fred Van Valkenberg’s pushback to the federal DOJ’s investigation? Well, it is unusual–local law enforcement is that: local.

    I’m OK with this pushback. Our law enforcement system works best if there is primarily local responsibility at work. Unless the local efforts prove inadequate or corrupt, of course. Then the State or even federal involvement may be necessary to correct the situation. If Fred is wrong, and the allegations made by others in this thread are proven true–and ‘proven’ is the operative word here–he is history. As well he should be. If nothing is proven, and our local approach is vindicated, so be it.

    Sometimes good things come from this sort of contest between levels of government. Facts are presented, law is interpreted,
    arguments are played out according to established legal procedures, up to and including in a court of law. As painful and sometimes expensive as that is, I believe legal determination of what is going on helps move us toward justice, which is often elusive.

    • Just how are local efforts proven to be corrupt or inadequate?

      You appear to be suggesting that the ballot box is the solution. I would wholly disagree given the current situation.

      Frankly, I think community leaders & elected officials are far more concerned with bad pr & the potential loss of weekend home game revenues than figuring out if 518 results & sexual assaults were adequately addressed.

      This isn’t going to fade away.

      Ask Seattle. Ask Los Angeles. Ask Cincinnati.


      • For jhwygirl and Problembear: First of all, the DOJ is in. Fred may try to fight them, but I am betting he won’t prevail. If he DOES prevail, then he had a point when he argued they can’t/shouldn’t come in and interfere with local law enforcement. I don’t think that argument can carry the day, though. Finally, it wasn’t my intention to support the good-old-boy network. I want to see Fred have to prove his case and if that means going toe to toe with the DOJ, I am all for it.

        Second, nothing has been proven yet. If the DOJ does its job, they will unearth the evidence of wrongdoing if it is there and they will determine where in law the County Attorney’s office has failed. There will be fact-finding. Using those same laws, they will file actionable motions with a court if the County Attorney is not appropriately responsive. My point–poorly made, perhaps–was that I am OK if there are dust ups like this from time to time, particularly if they occur in pursuit of justice for citizens. Some people like to say ‘freedom isn’t free;’ well, neither is justice. The ballot box issue is someone else’s, not mine.

        Third, I hope we NEVER rely on local journalists to be the final judges of what is fact. Reading a newspaper is a spectator sport because the newspapers buy the ink and editors decide what gets printed. Reporters are human, have biases, flaws, failings, misunderstandings etc. I wouldn’t want a world without them, but I wouldn’t want them judging me from outside a courtroom. In a court of law, the adversary system at least attempts to get more than one set of facts, understanding and interpretations considered (see my second point).

        Finally, because it bears repeating, I want a local legal system that treats assault victims with caring, compassion and vigorous law enforcement. One need only imagine any one of these women who have reported being assaulted as one’s sister, mother, girlfriend, wife, daughter, etc. to understand where I come down. People who assault women–or anyone else for that matter–have crossed a line and must be brought to justice.

  5. fair enough geoff. you defend fred van valkenberg’s expensive (for the taxpayers) quixotic quest against the D.O.J…….

    but maybe i’m missing something? can you explain how fred’s intransigence enhances rather than obstructs justice for the victims of the crimes the D.O.J. is investigating?

    How does your support for maintaining the local good-old-boy system make women feel safer in this community? and why should those same women (through their taxes) help pay the bill for Fred’s stonewalling of his poor record of prosecution of said cases?

    it seems as if those who have been paid by tax dollars most of their lives are pretty cavalier about spending those tax dollars.
    I could think of quite a few worthy programs that could use the millions we will spend on fred’s follies here.

  6. Pogo Possum

    Implying the request for $100,000 for anticipated costs related to the DOJ investigation is solely related to VanValkenburg’s refusal to cooperate with the DOJ is not accurate.

    Read a bit further down the Missoulian article and Bickell is quoted as saying, “… the money also could be used to fund any compliance agreement between the Justice Department and the county.”

    The DOJ does not operate outside the world of politics and therefore rarely if ever concludes any investigation with the statement that the DOJ made a mistake and the accused department or agency is doing everything just fine. The DOJ does not admit when it is wrong and therefore it is difficult to find any summary statement that does not include at least some finding of constitutional violations or institutional deficiencies that require communities to enact significant and often expensive structural, policy, audit and review procedures with costs into the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.

    Regardless of what the DOJ finds in its investigation, expect to see language in the DOJ Findings Letter that:

    State: “The constitutional violations and institutional deficiencies highlighted above are the product of an ingrained culture that encourages and tolerates the discriminatory treatment of _________….”

    Calls for enactment of: “. . . requisite policies and practices to ensure effective and constitutional law enforcement.”

    And goes on to state: “….Reform will require sustained commitment to long-term structural, cultural, and institutional change, including, but not limited to…”

    You can then expect to see a long laundry list of mandated and expensive reforms that usually include:

    • Data Collection and Risk Management systems for departments and agency activity that requires extensive and expensive auditable reports along with review and supervisory procedures
    • Comprehensive Complaint, investigation and disciplinary Systems
    • Community Out Reach Programs and citizen review processes

    Finally, siting “severe systemic and constitutional violations”, the DOJ will usually determine:

    “… effective compliance in this case will require federal judicial oversight; a court-enforceable agreement will provide the structure, transparency, and accountability necessary to achieve sustained success.

    I am not saying the City, County or University has not made errors or committed violations of law nor am I saying that reforms are not needed. That will be determined by these agencies own internal investigations and by that of the DOJ. But regardless of the severity of findings, Missoula and The University will be faced with enacting and paying for a long laundry list of mandatory “reforms” that may or not be necessary or effective regardless of the decision by the County Attorney’s Office not to cooperate with the DOJ.

    On a final note, this most recent news article is yet again another example of the repeatedly poor journalism demonstrated by the Missoulian writers in covering the wide range of issues associated with the rape charges in this community. From taking quotes out of context and grossly misrepresenting statements made by University administrators such as Jim Foley and to writing headlines that do not factually represent the corresponding stories, the Missoulian has done a disservice to its readers and has unnecessarily inflamed issues to the detriment of all involved.

    • Just like Penn State, local journalists, with the assistance of the Wall Street Journal have unearthed buried emails which proved beyond the scintilla of a doubt in any thinking human being’s mind the existence of a coverup attitude on the part of O’Day, and Mr. Foley. if their own words are embarrassing to them, so be it.

      I wonder if the parents of women violated by perpetrators who were protected by your dynamic duo would use your description of UM student athlete rapes as “unnecessarily inflamed issues.”

      question: how does Missoula County providing funding for and aiding Fred’s stonewall of the D.O.J. investigation provide more protection for women in Missoula?

      seems to me we should be providing more money to prosecute offenders rather than shoving money down this rat hole to help fred cover his own butt.

      • Pogo Possum

        PBear – thank you for providing an excellent example of misrepresenting a person’s statements. You and the Missoulian have a lot in common.

        First, I never said Fred and O’Day were my “ dynamic duo” or that I was defending any of their actions or that I don’t empathize with the rape victims and their families. Nor did I say that reporting the rapes and the rape accusations are inflaming comments. Those are your words not mine.

        I am saying that a journalist has a professional obligation to report information fairly and correctly regardless if they are discussing the victim, the accused or other parties involved.

        Here are two examples:

        First, early in the reporting of the rape accusations while police investigations were still underway, the Missoulian reported, based upon a review of emails, that UM Vice President Jim Foley was:

        “…questioning the use of the term “gang rape” in the Missoulian’s coverage of alleged sexual assaults at the university.” http://missoulian.com/article_166bb96a-a16c-11e1-8d36-001a4bcf887a.html

        That article, along with later Missoulian articles, gave the implication that at that time Foley knew a victim had been gang raped and was intentionally trying to misrepresent the reported crime to something less than what it was. What the reporter did not report, even though she had accompanying emails in her possession, was that Foley made those remarks only after he received an email from the Missoula police department responding to “his request” for more information on the reported assault and for clarification on whether to refer to the reported assault as a “date rape” or as a “gang rape.” The Missoula police officer instructed Foley that at that time his department was still investigating and that it had not determined that the assault was a “gang rape” and instructed Foley to refer to it as a “date rape”. Florio had an obligation to report that to her readers because it changes the context of Foley’s comments to Couture.

        Second, under the Missoulian headline: “UM vice president sought to punish alleged rape victim, emails reveal”, Gwen Florio’s lead paragraph says:

        ”University of Montana Vice President Jim Foley was so upset that an alleged rape victim spoke publicly about UM’s handling of her case that he asked whether action could be taken against her under the Student Code of Conduct.”

        Her only evidence of Foley being “so upset” or that he “Sought to Punish Alleged Rape Victim” comes from two sentences in his email to Couture:

        “Is it not a violation of the student code of conduct for the woman to be publicly talking about the process and providing details about the conclusion?” Foley emailed then-Dean of Students Charles Couture in March. “Help me understand please.”

        While Foley’s statement does clearly show he was trying to clarify the rules of the student code of conduct that obligates the University to follow a set of procedures that apply to both accuser and accused, it does not support Florio’s allegation that Foley was calling for the victim to be punished and it certainly doesn’t show anything about his mood at the time.

        While those who dislike Foley for other and possibly legitimate reasons, may want to believe he fully intended to punish the rape victim, they can’t use Florio’s article or that quote as proof of that assertion.

        Regardless of how guilty the accused are, and in spite of what egregious actions various City, County and University officials may have taken, quoting sources out of context so that it implies egregious actions that are not supported by evidence and siting opinion not supported by facts to juice up a headline is unprofessional, irresponsible and inflammatory.

        And again, don’t try to twist these comments into saying I don’t empathize with the rape victims.

        • i don’t believe empathizing with rape victims does them much good pogo. but prosecuting offenders does do some good. if the DOJ can open fred’s can of worms and find out why so little is being done by the D.A.’s office to keep women safe in this town then they should be invited with open arms.

          my question to you and to geoff (and i will even take out the money part so you don’t stumble over that objection) is this:

          how does fred’s intransigent stance in refusing to cooperate with the DOJ benefit victims of rape?

          and I will add another question as a bonus: how does fred’s follies actually help missoula move forward so that women in this town can feel safe by knowing that strong deterrence and swift prosecution await potential offenders?

          fred van valkenberg is demonstrating quite clearly his preference to protect himself rather than the women of missoula by his stance of stonewalling this investigation.rather than demonstrating that he is willing to work hard to see that justice is done by cooperating he is also “saying” that he empathizes with the victims.

          we need less talk about empathizing and more real work in prosecuting rapists so that missoula is not seen as the place for rapists to go because they can do whatever they want since we have a DA who refuses to prosecute them.

        • On your first swipe, Pogo, you seem to imply – or at minimum defend Foley in an after-the fact attempt at delineation – that “date rape” is somehow less of a horrible horrible crime than “gang rape.”

          Call me oversensitive, but I find that splitting hairs on the implied subtleties between gang rape and date rape pretty despicable.

          It also implies that Foley did NOT know more than what was in the paper at the time – because another fact that came out in the University’s not-so-independent report done by their own attorney Diane Bartz was that “gang rape” would have been the appropriate description of at least one of the rapes.

          Foley was deep in the Griz athletic program, whether by design or choice. I don’t know anyone who would deny that. Did he know? Given all we know – and we know that they had their own independent judge and jury system over there entirely separate from the University’s system – I find it much more plausible (if you’re going to create a fiction of presumptions with your second example concerning whether or whether not Foley was considering punishing the victim) that Foley knew exactly what the events were…and that he was calling the police to get ahead of the PR game.

          Frankly, that the police were explaining to Foley the intricacies of a case under investigation is a bit intriguing – and I would think that the DOJ might find that interesting also.

          In other words – why was it Foley’s business, and is that SOP for the police to be answering questions about the particulars of a rape investigation?

          Presumably they have the email to which you refer, given that both the U and the City of Missoula Police have cooperated.

          • fair enough geoff communications is a bitch sometimes. I think we can all agree that fred is standing on some pretty shaky legal real estate right now. his statement that he is not law enforcement is absolutely jaw dropping.

            imagine the mother of one of these victims as she tries to explain how the system works to her daughter with that one.

    • Pogo I am sorry,

      I have never seen AG’ Assistant attorneys work in the political world, just the legal one, when it comes to investigations. You have been watching to many movies. Real Law does not work like CSI, or Law and order.

      If Fred wanted to distance himself from doing wrong he would have gladly allowed the DOJ in. Thats not happening. Again, when state law interferes with federal law, in any way its HIstory.

      Geoff, It is part of the AG job to work with law enforcement no matter its form, that is why a Lawyer is called an Officer of the court. Your being naive to think Fred can Hamper an investigation of the DOJ and federal education attorneys as well.

      • Norma,
        Ok, on balance, I will blame myself for expressing my thoughts poorly instead of blaming you for not understanding them. This one’s on me.
        There is no question in my mind that the County Attorney is an officer of the court. My degrees are in political science and public administration and I paid attention in class when that was covered.
        I also paid attention in class when federalism was discussed and I got the part about what is federal and what is state and what is local responsibility. It is shared. The federal government, and to a lesser extent, the state, is not given full run of local affairs, though. Over time, the relationship has been defined by case law. Criminal prosecution is pretty much a local matter for stuff like assault, rape and murder. In this case, the feds in the form of the DOJ have come in and said, ‘we suspect that the way you have been enforcing the law has been contrary to federal standards.’ Well, guess what? Fred gets to say, ‘is that right? Prove it.’ What’s more, the feds get to say, ‘Ok, let’s just have a look at what’s going on.’ And I don’t think Fred gets to say no to that, although he seems to be trying to. I don’t think he will be successful in residting the DOJ from looking at what is going on, but that is only my opinion.
        So, far from being naive, I think I am in agreement with you. Let’s not argue about what we agree on, OK?

        • See, thats the problem that’s not what the feds said in their letters. Better read them again!

          Fred wants you to believe that but it is not the case.

          DOJ writing:”This letter is to inform you that the United States Department of Justice’s Civil Rights ‘Division and United ‘States Attorney’s for the District of Montana are commencing an
          investigation of the Missoula. County Attorney’s Office pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141 (“Section 14l41”), and the pattern or practice provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C.

          § 3789d (“Safe Streets Act”). The investigation will focus on allegations that the County Attorneys Office is engaged in a pattern or practice of gender discrimination in violation of the
          Fourteenth Amendment and the Safe Streets Act”

          They were acting on an outside complaint, so they want to investigate that complaint. Fred As an Officer of the Court, cannot disagree.

          Legal definition:

          “AN Officer of the Court is any person who has an obligation to promote justice and effective operation of the judicial system, including judges, the attorneys who appear in court, bailiffs, clerks, and other personnel.

          As officers of the court lawyers have an absolute ethical duty to tell judges the truth, including avoiding dishonesty or evasion about reasons the attorney or his/her client is not appearing, the location of documents and other matters related to conduct of the courts.”

          So what was Fred arguing again? Oh, yea about what an Officer of the court does! Evasion of the subject or not turning over documents doesn’t work does it?

          • Steve W


            The federal attorney isn’t a judge. The federal attorney is an employee of the executive branch. So I’m not sure why you insist that Fred is obligated to turn over records on the word of a non-judge. My guess is a real judge will, in the future, make such an order. But until then your argument isn’t applicable.

            Your argument upthread that the County Commissioners remove an elected county official is of the same caliber of analysis. The County Commissioners can’t remove elected officials for either good or bad reasons. They don’t have the power to remove our elected representatives. They could call on Fred to resign, just as you or I could, but they aren’t Kings or Queens. They don’t have the right to remove our elected officials. You can say “Off with their heads,” or the equivalent all you like (and you do often) but i’m glad we are a nation of laws. You can read these laws, if you want, on the internet. Montana has a web site where you can read the laws of the state. Please check with the law before you suggest remedies. It makes for better reality based remedies.

            By the way, it says here that the State Attorney General is responsible for oversight of county attorneys in Montana.

            Personally, while I like Fred, I’d like to see him resign. He was incompetent back in the 1990’s when he let the violent perps in my families ordeal go scot-free, and he’s still incompetent obviously.

            Fred even admitted as much publicly on video to the legislature last year when he told us he was incompetent to implement the law passed by Missoula County voters.

            We the voters need to take care of our elected representative’s incompetence and that means either recall or wait until next time the term of office comes up. Or we could ask Steve Bullock to do something.

            We also need a viable alternative to Fred. Because we could go from bad to worse without one.

            • Again your reading me state law while Freds been asked to deliver to federal officials, under federal law? Really?

              Just on the Omibus Bill alone…. if Fred doesn’t deliver proof his AG office and possibly the police force haven’t handled rapes of women and Harassment charges sufficiently…. your county can lose all federal funding for the AG office and the police until it is corrected.

              Do you think that makes the streets safer? In fact the GOV suspends any money coming into the pipes that was previously promised. More Taxes for Missoulians, less street safety all because of Fred Baby not doing his job.

              How Kind of Fred to screw with the safety of everyone in your county Now (Snark)!

            • I don’t care what method we use to get rid of fred. the sooner we get rid of him, the sooner missoula can start building a legal enforcement culture that promotes safer streets for women and a much less inviting legal environment for criminals who prey on them.

              it stuns me to see how someone can be so blind to their own predicament when everyone around fred can see the folly of his stubbornness. fred is only making things worse with his intransigence. thanks to his fighting the DOJ instead of cooperating, missoula will pay dearly, both in revenue and in public image.

    • Chuck

      Post of the decade.
      I have had to fight the DOJ…and won against their trumped up bullsht. Fred should tell them to fack off.

  7. now our county commissioner Bill Carey is supporting Fred Van Valkenburg in stonewalling the D.O.J. investigation of Missoula’s sex assault and rape scandal.

    I would be careful Bill. That limb that Fred is sitting on may not support much more weight……


    one has to wonder why our formerly reticent county commissioner is helping fred. is it just more good old boy missoula linking up to help each other while women victims and their families suffer?

    there simply is no good excuse for a District attorney to refuse to cooperate in an investigation which sets out to find a way to make missoula safer for women. and there is simply no explanation which would convince me why a county commissioner would support fred.

    if missoula doesn’t want itself to be seen as Selma for women, then it is time for missoulians to stand up and say that we support the Dept. of Justice in their investigation, so that our streets may be made safe and victims can have confidence in our judicial system again. this show of support by Bill Carey is extremely disappointing coming from what I had considered to be a fairly progressive and fair minded man. To have our county commissioner side with fred on this is embarrassing to missoula and may well prove fatal to Bill’s chances for reelection after the D.O.J. comes out with its findings.

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